In the past few days, there has been a rapid pace of developments on the cryptocurrency front in India. These developments make the cryptocurrency story in India queerer.
Earlier this year, the central government was planning to bring a bill in the parliament to ban cryptocurrencies and introduce necessary policy frameworks for the launch of its own digital coin issued by The Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Back in 2018, the RBI had banned cryptocurrencies by asking public sector banks not to offer banking facilities to cryptocurrencies. This led to the closure of many of the cryptocurrency exchanges that had set shops in India. Some of them left the country and shifted their operations to offshore locations.
However, in 2020, the Supreme Court of India set aside the RBI order, and cryptocurrency transactions once again became legal. At that time, the central government had said that it would bring in a law to ban cryptocurrencies and launch its official virtual coin. But the government has yet not acted on its promise to introduce the bill — Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 – in the parliament that convened in January for the budget session (which usually lasts from February to May with a recess in the middle) after foregoing the winter session (which usually starts either in last week of November or first week of December and lasts for 3 weeks) due to the pandemic.
After presenting the budget 2021-22, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at an event that India would not shut off all options on cryptocurrency and blockchain to ensure that the experiments in this space continue. “Once Parliament is over, I will probably spend more time executing and planning that. On fintech and blockchain, there is a lot of work going on in India and we will certainly encourage that,” she said.
This brought some relief to the cryptocurrency community in India who as per some estimates is believed to be 10-million strong and their investments are to the tune of $1.5 billion. Around the same time, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) announced that every Indian company will have to disclose the details of their cryptocurrency holdings and transactions for 2020-21 in their annual financial report submitted to the different regulatory bodies.
The government decision was interpreted differently by many people. For example, some believed that the intention of the government is to regulate the use of cryptocurrencies in the country and introduce a tax regime for them.
But later, media reports quoting an unnamed Finance Ministry official said that making it mandatory for companies to disclose cryptocurrency holdings and transactions in 2020-21 is not a reflection of the government’s stance on the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies in the country. The official highlighted that cryptocurrency investments in the country have no protection against any fraud as neither the government nor the central bank has issued any guidelines to regulate cryptocurrency trades.
Crypto Held in Overseas Accounts: Disclosure Order Puts Investors on the Edge
Meanwhile, the government’s move to ask companies to disclose their cryptocurrency holdings and transactions has kept the cryptocurrency investors who have bought virtual coins abroad and stored them in overseas wallets. As per the RBI’s Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS), Indians can send up to $250,000 abroad for different purposes including purchasing real estate and securities. But the list of permissible investments does not include cryptocurrencies.
Now, cryptocurrency investors are baffled — whether they should disclose their cryptocurrency holdings maintained in overseas accounts. If they do, the legality of their investment comes under the scanner, and if they don’t, they might get pulled up later on when these assets come to the regulator’s notice when the investors try to bring the money back to India through the formal banking system. There is no clarity about what is the right thing to do in this case.
Business as Usual: Exchanges Keep Making News
Meanwhile, a number of developments have made the cryptocurrency scene more invigorating than ever. For example, Europe’s most extended cryptocurrency exchange Coinsbit has launched its operations in India through a new company called Coinsbit India.
To make itself popular among cryptocurrency investors and attract them, Coinsbit India has launched an airdrop scheme billed as “India’s Biggest Airdrop”.
The opening of the Coinsbit India trading platform is significant in the light of two other developments in the same space recently. The first was the crashing of Binance-owned India-focused home-grown crypto exchange WazirX due to excessive traffic on April 4, 2021.
However, the exchange achieved a new milestone: it crossed a daily trading volume of $200 million for the first time, and first for any India-centric exchange. That day, the actual trading volume soared to $270 million, making the Indian media splash it on their front pages. The next day, its trading volume grew to cross $350 million. WazirX had come into being in March 2018, barely 3 weeks before the RBI had imposed its ban on cryptocurrencies in April 2018. The company is now eying $1 billion in daily trading volume this year.
Coinsbase India Office
Another development that has kept cryptocurrency investors in India amused is the news related to US-based Coinbase with a $100-billion valuation. Before it became the talk of the town with its listing on Nasdaq on April 14, it was in news in India about a fortnight back for plans to set up its backroom office in Hyderabad, India.
It’s the same city where Coinsbit India is having its office. Hyderabad is another major IT hub after Bengaluru, and Coinbase is planning to hire engineers, software developers, and customer care professionals as it intends to have its presence on a sound footing in the country before the Indian government rules become more pliable towards cryptocurrency trade.
As so much is happening at the cryptocurrency front, best signified by the breath-taking rise of Bitcoin’s valuation that soared close to $65,000, India’s policymakers’ silence is more confusing than reassuring about its likely policies for the sector.
Former Coinbase CTO Balaji Makes a Strong Case for Crypto Adoption
While the Indian government has chosen to look the other way even when cryptocurrencies seem to be coming of age and making more governments and corporations adopt them, the industry pioneers are not silent.
In a highly publicized blog, former Coinbase CTO Balaji S. Srinivasan has argued that India should add crypto to IndiaStack, an API with data of over a billion Indians, and Unified Payments Interface (UPI).
In an interview earlier this year, he had said that the ban would lead India nowhere and it would be forced to join the cryptocurrency movement 3 to 5 years down the line. But by then it would lose the competitive advantage it has at the moment, thanks to digital infrastructure and protocols such as IndiaStack.
Among other important things in his post, Balaji said that the addition of crypto to India’s digital payment interface will open the country to huge foreign investments in the form of crypto. Srinivasan says crypto can do to Indian businesses what the internet has done to information, and what email has done to written communication. India with 1 billion smartphone users stands a chance to attract investments of about $250 billion a year. He gives the example of how Ethereum has disrupted the credit and finance sector by introducing decentralized finance. He argues that with virtually everyone holding a smartphone, they can access crypto funds like businesses access Wall Street for their capital requirements.
Indian Government Wants Blockchain
In his personal capacity, Srinivasan is right now working on Smart Contracts with blockchain as the primary technology. The government of India, too, wants to use blockchain technology for other purposes, for example, to create a land registry.
Srinivasan’s arguments in the blog formed the basis of a Bloomberg opinion piece that went with the headline: “Wall Street for All? India’s Crypto Crowd Fights Back”. The opinion piece was carried prominently by all major financial dailies and digital media outlets in India.
The Political Tightrope
With so much of pro-crypto happening at its doorsteps, can India shut its doors on what is billed as the “currency of the future?” More importantly, can the Indian government afford to lose sight of what the Bloomberg opinion piece said in its headline? The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is in power at the centre is known for its nationalist ideology.
It is worth watching out how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government strikes a balance between what looks like pragmatism and what his party folks would want him to do on an issue like cryptocurrencies that does not resonate well with India’s huge population of the poor. Giving a go-ahead to crypto might further strengthen Modi’s image as pro-rich and that might not be in his interest especially when the pandemic has ravaged the economy. He doesn’t have much elbow room as the general elections are due in 2024.
TrustSwap Launchpad hosts token offering for RegTech platform Sekuritance
Sekuritance, a CeFi/DeFi ecosystem delivering compliance, regulatory, transaction monitoring, and identity management solutions, is collaborating with TrustSwap, a full-service blockchain asset platform, to support the execution of its SKRT token offering starting on May 8th, 2021 at 9:00 AM PST.
The cryptocurrency economy has taken the world by storm and it is here to stay. Just like traditional finance, the risk of fraud, misuse, abuse also exists in the crypto space. Due to the decentralized and semi-anonymous nature of blockchain, these factors can be compounded resulting in hesitation of adoption by financial regulators and banking institutions. While there may not yet be a bulletproof solution, there are ways to mitigate risk and potential losses, and blacklisting.
Most people who are active in the DeFi space are also using some form of traditional banking service (credit cards, bank accounts, mortgage/insurance payments, retail commerce, etc.). When crypto proceeds start moving between these realms, the banks and regulators want to know where the money came from, whether it has been declared or taxed effectively, whether it has passed through unauthorized darknet services, and so many more questions needing specific answers. In the event that any of the above questions result negatively, the traditional finance ecosystem is most likely to reject the onboarding or the use of those proceeds to pass through their networks.
The Sekuritance RegTech Suite addresses this by making available specific services and modules to address the various regulatory and compliance requirements.
Sekuritance recognizes that there are many jurisdictional challenges in the RegTech niche so, rather than competing with other software-as-a-service providers in the RegTech industry, they are invited to make their API offerings available also through the Sekuritance Partner Marketplace so that merchants and individuals around the world can enjoy an All-In-One RegTech Gateway.
The Sekuritance ecosystem is comprised of 8 main products:
1. Sekur.Vault (Data Tokenisation Vault)
Sekur.Vault is a unique omni-vault, audited to the highest level of industry security standards and tweaked to not only store what is commonly referred to as “Rubbish In, Rubbish Out” but to add value to the output upon retrieval by cross-consumption of the other Sekuritance modules such as BIN checks, KYC checks, AML checks and more.
The platform’s robust and simple to use API set and dedicated user interface allows the secure storage of Card Data (Debit, Credit, Alternate); Crypto Wallet Private & Public Keys; Sensitive Personal Data; Confidential Corporate Data; KYC, KYB Related Data; Transaction Data for BI and AI and more.
2. Sekur.MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication)
This omni-auth module caters primarily to 3D Secure services for the traditional card payment industry. Development has also started for an on-chain decentralized identity management and claiming process. Our own unique acquirer-agnostic 3D Solution allows merchants to validate and process 3D checks (both versions 1 and 2) before taking payment.
3. Sekur.Connect (RegTech Marketplace)
The Sekuritance RegTech SekurSuite platform is a powerful toolkit on its own but trying to stay ahead of all the global jurisdictions, updates to regulations and policies, AML guidelines, etc. is a mammoth task. So, rather than try to outsmart all the other valuable and recognized players in the industry, Sekuritance is creating a RegTech marketplace where software-as-a-service providers and developers can showcase their solutions and participate in the SKRT token economy.
Sekur.Alert functionality connects to specialized datasets to help keep our customers safe and help them ensure that they are doing business with wallets and identities of good standing. To help grow this dataset, the crypto community is invited to report any fraudulent activity to Sekuritance so that the whole community can be better protected. Every new unique and verified report gets to participate in the SKRT Loyalty and Reward program.
KYC, KYB, KYT, AML, Sanction Screening, and other rule engine applications are all available on the Sekuritance platform. Businesses and institutions can use these tools to identify who customers are and their eligibility for specific product offerings. They can use the Sekuritance RegTech platform to get transaction and IP “Risk Scores” and sub-scores as well as other data in order to prevent fraud and abuse.
The anonymity of cryptocurrencies is a myth. Very few mixing services can outwit modern de-anonymization technologies for Bitcoin tracking and other cryptocurrency alternatives. No one has a clear understanding of how fast the RegTech niche will be evolving but one thing beyond question — regulation of the cryptocurrency space will tighten and all will have to accept the new rules and play by them.
Sekuritance strives to become one of the leading vendors of RegTech solutions for the crypto and fiat industry and believes that the openness of financial data on blockchains will be a driver for regulatory institutions to reinforce control. With a powerful blockchain analytics toolset like Sekuritance, regulatory bodies could end money laundering and make financial reporting easy and transparent.
The Sekuritance Sekur.Certify Blockchain Wallet Verification service allows for a user to claim controlling power certification on a particular wallet once a number of actions would have been performed, KYC & AML checks confirmed and crypto investigation on the wallet completed.
Details of Sekuritance Token Offering
The Sekuritance token offering will be executed by leveraging the TrustSwap Launchpad. Upon the successful conclusion of the offering, a Uniswap pool will be created on May 13th, 2021, and trading can commence for use of SKRT in the Sekuritance network. Alongside the offering, Sekuritance will be showcasing a preview of its RegTech Suite and Partner Platform.
TrustSwap technology utilizes secure peer-to-peer transactions via TrustSwap SmartLaunch; which ensures that Sekuritance and its community can transact securely and without fear of participants or team members negatively impacting the markets following the public offering. TrustSwap’s time-based SmartLock ensures a methodical distribution to mitigate the risk of unauthorized token transfers.
Sekuritance will use TrustSwap SmartLocks for:
- Team token vesting
- Token holder vesting
- Liquidity locks
For more information about Sekuritance visit https://www.sekuritance.com.
Shanghai Man: VeChain on TV, DOGE flips BTC volume, Hotbit hack and more …
This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.
Will DOGEmania ever stop?
Dogecoin has officially flipped Bitcoin in a few categories here in China, with DOGE trading volume on leading Chinese exchange Huobi surpassing that of leading assets ETH and BTC. On May 6th, according to CoinGecko, DOGE volume made up more than 15% of total exchange volume, whereas BTC and ETH were around 8% each. Searches for ‘Dogecoin’ on WeChat surpassed searches for Bitcoin, with 2.3 million versus 1.7 million on May 5th. Dogecoin has become increasingly appealing to the Chinese retail community since earlier this year as many are attracted to the virality and get-rich-quick potential of the colorful DOGE community.
Hacking attempt fails, but causes a major ruckus
Centralized exchange Hotbit was the victim of a hacking attempt on April 30th. The good news was that assets appear to be safe on the platform. The bad news was that user data was compromised, leading to a corrupted database. Trading, deposits and withdrawals have all been paused while the exchange attempts to restore normality. The Chinese exchange has been communicating actively via Twitter, with the interrupted service lasting potentially another week. Hotbit is well known for listing a diverse range of assets, making it a popular spot among more risk averse investors.
Shenzhen-based HOO launches Smart Chain contender
Hoo.com became yet another exchange to launch an Ethereum Virtual Machine, or EVM-based, smart chain, attempting to bridge their CeFi users into the DeFi space. The chain, currently in testnet, boasts low fees of just 0.001 USD per transaction and over 500+ transactions per second, as well as compatibility with Ethereum, BSC, and HECO. Since the start of the year, Hoo’s token has increased by over 350%. Other Chinese exchanges, including OKEx and Gate, have also launched smart chains. Smart chains are proving an attractive way to let users maximize yield while still letting the exchange capture value from the process.
VeChain on national TV
English-language and state-run business channel CGTN created a short expository video on blockchain’s growth post-COVID19. The video and article featured a close look at VeChain’s progress in developing business solutions, explaining how the technology could be applied to the food safety and infection control industry. The media company shot a short video inside the office and interviewed a few of the developers, indicating that the company has done well to comply with regulatory requirements in the tightly run country. It’s no secret that VeChain has a top position and close relationship with many government backed organizations, which is an enviable position for any enterprise Blockchain-as-a-Service provider.
Rising salaries for blockchain devs
The Beijing Human Resources and Social Security Bureau recently released the 2021 Beijing Human Resources Market Salary Survey Report (First Quarterly)”. According to the report, new and hot jobs, which included the tech space, had a median average monthly salary mainly in the $3,000 to $4,600 range. Blockchain engineers comfortably eclipsed that with a wage of $6,700 per month, showing the growing demand for the skills. By contrast, the average annual salary of a blockchain developer in the U.S. often exceeds $12,500 per month, according to recruitment firm Hired.com, nearly double the going rate in Beijing.
Miners back up and running… away?
Mining appears to have resumed as normal following the outages after a deadly coal mine accident last month. The incident required rigorous inspections of mining facilities, forcing many ASIC miners to turn off their machines. Hashrates have currently recovered to near the rates they were prior to the incident in the middle of April. One interesting shift, however, is that the industry appears to be gradually shifting from China to North America. F2Pool founder Chun Wang noted that for the first time in 8 years, more than half the BTC hashing power was coming from outside of China. This may have been partially tied to the incident, but is a trend that many experts are following as mining regulations in China appear to be growing stricter.
XRP, Dogecoin, Cardano Price Analysis: 06 May
With Bitcoin’s market dominance falling once again and the altseason gaining steam, the likes of XRP, Dogecoin, and Cardano have all appreciated significantly on the price charts over the past week or so.
XRP’s recovery since falling to close to $0.20 on the back of the SEC filing a lawsuit against Ripple Labs has been impressive, with the alt recording YTD returns of 510% at press time. Its price action over the past week, however, has been very inconsistent, with bouts of appreciation followed by sharp price falls on the charts. Even so, the cryptocurrency was close to recuperating all its losses following the depreciation on the 25th of April.
While Parabolic SAR’s dotted markers were under the price candles and underlined the bullishness in the XRP market, Awesome Oscillator gave the opposite signal, with its histogram picturing a fall in market momentum.
Dogecoin has been one of 2021’s best crypto-performers, with the alt hiking astronomically to register YTD returns of 10,800% this year. DOGE’s hike has been particularly exponential since the month of April, with the same more or less being the trend in May too. In the last week alone, DOGE has climbed by over 115% on the charts, with many expecting the popular meme-coin to continue surging at least until Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s appearance as “Dogefather” on Saturday Night Live.
The scale of its bullishness was evident when Dogecoin’s technical indicators were checked out. While Chaikin Money Flow was holding steady close to the 0.20-mark, Relative Strength Index noted a slight dip after a visit to the overbought zone.
Mark Cuban was one of the many crypto-proponents to come forward and comment on the meme-coin’s utility and purpose recently.
After a brief phase in February which saw ADA surge up the charts to lead the altseason for a time, the past few months have mostly seen Cardano trade within a tight price channel. At the time of writing, ADA was close to breaking out of the said range, while also inching closer to its previous ATH of $1.55 on the price charts.
In the last three days, ADA hiked by almost 20% on the charts.
While Bollinger Bands remained far apart to highlight volatility, MACD line was moving away from the Signal line to indicate the crypto’s latest bullish credentials.
The altcoin was in the news recently after IOHK’s Charles Hoskinson hit back at critics to comment that it’s bizarre to suggest that Cardano is a blatant scam.
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