An Indian Supreme Court advocate, Abraham C Mathews, is currently making waves after penning an article in local news portal, Money Control.
Briefly touching on the dizzying highs, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies had scaled to in the early part of 2017, Mathews said, “Monetarily, Bitcoin scaled dizzying heights over this period (the famous 20 times run to around $20,000/Btc in 2017), before settling at more reasonable levels of around $3000/Btc over the last year — still a spectacular return if you had bought it during the early frenzy.”
The crux of the opinion piece, however, saw Mathews advising the government against the decision of attempting to regulate cryptocurrencies and exchanges. He also talked about the central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), imposing its infamous ban on Indian banks working with cryptocurrency exchanges, in April last year.
He said, “This is, unfortunately as far as the central bank can go. You cannot regulate (remember, regulation also works as assurance to citizens who deal with regulated entities) something that you do not have some semblance of control over. Suppose a Bitcoin exchange is registered with the government, or the RBI, and let’s say, it gets hacked, the probably of the coins being recovered or the perpetrators being discovered is alarmingly low. Nothing that the government introduces or requires can change this fact.”
Currently, the Supreme Court is listening to multiple court cases pertaining to regulations on bitcoin, et al. Cryptocurrency exchanges had filed multiple petitions against the RBI. Apart from that, there are many individual petitioners who have filed a petition asking the Union of India to come to a speedy conclusion. The next hearing will be on March 25.
While he listed the flaws with cryptocurrencies (being untraceable and unrecoverable), he added that it would not be accurate to say that cryptocurrencies are illegal. He said, “It must be treated for what it is: a shiny new toy. Let them play with it. However, giving it statutory or regulatory legitimacy is not just imprudent, it is foolhardy.”
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