India to Shut Down Domestic Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Government Panel Advises

The decision came after Bitcoin hit record highs this week after CME Group announced plans to introduce Bitcoin futures.

A government committee has recommended that India’s authorities take immediate steps to shut down the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges, saying that the use of Bitcoin and the like could result in a breach of anti-money laundering provisions, Indian financial news outlet The Economic Times reported on Thursday, citing sources.

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India’s finance minister recently appointed a dedicated panel that was tasked with examining the existing framework of cryptocurrencies and to come out with measures for dealing with the digital assets. The government-appointed panel was given three months to submit its reports on issues relating to consumer protection and money laundering.

The panel has still to decide on how the government can consider bringing in legislation to stop crypto transactions and which body will have regulatory oversight over cryptocurrencies.

The decision came after Bitcoin hit record highs this week after CME Group, operator of the world’s largest futures and options exchange, said that it plans to introduce Bitcoin futures by the end of the year. The cryptocurrency, which has surged more than sevenfold this year, peaked above $7,000 threshold following the Chicago-based venue’s announcement.

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According to the newspaper, participants in India’s bitcoin market expressed their disappointment as they were hoping for some form of a legislation to regulate the activities of local exchanges.

Hesham Rehman, CEO and co-founder of Bitxoxo, a Bitcoin exchange operating in India, was quoted as saying that instead of shutting down cryptocurrency dealers, the government must take steps to curb the buying and selling of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies in cash.

He added: “This move can reduce illegalities in the country.If exchanges come under the definition of dealers, then in case of closure of domestic cryptocurrency exchanges, buyers will start buying them from foreign exchanges.”

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