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6 reasons why cryptocurrencies need to be regulated

While a ban on private crypto currencies will kill all future innovations in the crypto space, the virtual currencies do need a regulatory framework to protect the interest of  investors

twitter-logoAnand Adhikari | March 12, 2021 | Updated 15:23 IST
6 reasons why cryptocurrencies need to be regulated
These virtual currencies are not a legal tender backed by the central government or the RBI

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently said that the government is going to take a calibrated position on cryptocurrency. The  minister also said the government wants to ensure that there is a window for experiments in the cryptocurrency space. But the cryptocurrency platforms or exchanges in India are fearing a complete ban on trading. The new bill, moved by the government, is likely  to propose a framework for digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

While a ban on private crypto currencies will kill all future innovations in the crypto space, the virtual currencies do need a regulatory framework to protect the interest of  investors. So what should be regulatory framework for crypto currencies, and why is a need for regulations. Let's look at the five major areas that need attention.

Also read: 'Don't want to join every party in town': Rakesh Jhunjhunwala backs Bitcoin ban

Classification of cryptocurrencies as digital tokens and tradeable assets

There is a need for clear classification of cryptocurrency in India. These virtual currencies are not a legal tender backed by the central government or the RBI. The Indian crypto players  are also asking for treating crypto assets as financial assets like debt, equity or a commodity.

Regulations for investor protection

Like any other financial asset, the value of a virtual assets is also prone to market manipulation and price volatility. In the last few years, the prices of  crypto assets have seen wide fluctuations. Take for instance, the price of Bitcoin fell to $47K last month, but again  climbed up to $57K in March. There are also chances of mis-selling the crypto assets as investor awareness is very low. There is a need for disclosure of underlying assets, their performance, adoption, the future potential and risks associated with virtual currencies.

Allowing select well-known crypto assets

There are some Indian platforms that are offering more than 300 crypto assets for trading. Globally, there are thousands of crypto assets. Today most investors only know about Bitcoin, Ether or Ripple, but nobody knows about these hundred and thousands  of virtual currencies. A regulatory authority clearing the crypto assets is needed.

Also read: Govt alive, aware about various issues around cryptocurrencies: DFS Secy

Understanding the technological risk

There is a big risk of  technological changes that could even make the blockchain obsolete in future. Given the pace of changes  and disruption,  the value of digital assets  or buying digital assets for long term requires the asset class to remain relevant for a long term. There is a need for creating information infrastructure and certified financial advisors trained in crypto assets.

Cyber security risk

There is cyber security risk and chances of online fraud in case of cryptocurrency as entire investment or wealth is stored virtually. Globally, hacking is a major threat today for banks and institutions. Even the most secured US Federal Reserve, the US Central bank, has seen hundreds of cyber attacks in the last decade. A cyber attack could result in losses for investors who have put their savings in crypto assets.

Also read: Govt response to cryptocurrency will be 'calibrated'; open to experiment: Sitharaman

Money laundering concern

Governments globally are worried about terror financing through cryptocurrency. An unregulated  system has the potential to fund illegal activities. Today , the crypto exchanges need large investments in technology to detect any suspicious transactions. A bank like KYC or customer due diligence is needed to verify location and identity investors. There is a need for strong penalties for any violation of  KYC guidelines.

Also read: What's the problem with Cyrptocurrency Bill? Industry insiders explain

Also read: What is Cryptocurrency Bill 2021; how it will impact bitcoin investors

Also read: Cryptocurrencies are neither currency nor commodity; will bring bill soon: Anurag Thakur

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