As India is mulling new rules for digital money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for regulations to ensure cryptocurrencies like bitcoin do not “end up in the wrong hands,” warning that this could “spoil” young people.
While he did not expand on those concerns, Modi spoke on Thursday about the need for “democratic nations” to band together and deal with challenges posed by emerging technologies. He was delivering a virtual address at the Sydney Dialogue, an annual cyber-tech summit.
Noting that technology and data could either become “new weapons” for conflict or “instruments of cooperation,” Modi brought up digital currencies as an example of how it was important that like-minded nations “work together on this” to “ensure it does not end up in the wrong hands, which can spoil our youth.”
We are at a historic moment of choice. Whether all the wonderful powers of technology of our age will be instruments of cooperation or conflict, coercion or choice, domination or development, oppression or opportunity.
He also urged the development of technical and governance standards and norms, singling out the use of data, and called for renewed efforts to prevent manipulation of public opinion. In recent weeks, Indian authorities have raised concerns over claims of huge returns from cryptocurrency investment as well as its potential connections to money laundering, organized crime and terror financing.
On Saturday, Modi chaired a meeting to formulate the country’s approach to digital currencies and examine their impact on the economy. According to The Economic Times, Indian officials are drafting regulations to propose a ban on all transactions and payments in cryptocurrencies, while allowing investors to hold them as assets, similar to gold, bonds and stock shares.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the government’s discussions, the newspaper said there was a belief in policy circles that crypto markets needed to be regulated in order to tackle the problem of opaque advertising that exaggerates investment returns in order to attract young investors.
The sources informed the newspaper that draft legislation on the matter was expected to be forwarded to Modi’s cabinet for consideration in the next two to three weeks.
In September, China had banned all cryptocurrency transactions and crypto-mining.
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