It wasn’t a Forbes article that claimed: “whichever country integrates the blockchain technology into its system, will be riding the wave of the fourth industrial revolution.” However, the growing popularity of cryptocurrency in emerging economies of El Salvador, Vietnam, Ukraine, India, bespeaks for the deepening roots of this new asset class.
At a time when even at its nascent stage, the crypto market in India is growing at an exponential rate, the government’s notorious foreplay of introducing a new bill that seeks to crack down these unregulated assets, seems to upset many zealous “crypto-bros”.
Remember how we skipped past the third industrial revolution and jumped right from being an agriculture economy to exporting knowledge service globally? India languished on the fringes during the first two industrial revolutions powered by coal and steam and electricity and oil, only to play catch-up in the computer-driven third industrial revolution. Putting a blanket ban on crypto would be foolhardy as it would tarnish the reputation of India as a technological hub.
In a matter of a few years, India has added about 230 startups that are operating in the CryptoTech space. While still in its fledgling phase, India has the highest number of crypto owners (10.07 crore) in the world. It is a no-brainer why the crypto exchanges are so persistent in getting the government to push past their skeptic and not put a damper on the gaiety. Amidst the inability of the government to “bite the bullet and be it, the crypto market faces an existential crisis.
The acrimonious dispute between the central bank and crypto exchanges over misleading advertisements coupled with the newest salvo barring most of the private currency has triggered heavy selling within the country’s digital currency market. Having been termed as a “child of heretics even anarchist in the world of money”, the prices of these unregulated currencies have been dropping more often than Drake’s singles.
The bill has spooked both the investors and the VCs. The bill seeks to prohibit all the private cryptocurrency in India but “allows for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology”. While lawmakers in countries like USA and India are working out how to regulate cryptocurrencies, countries like Russia, Iran, and Venezuela are making major moves to integrate them. They are not the first ones to realize that an anonymous virtually untraceable currency could provide an opportunity to evade crippling international sanctions. Russia has been impatiently looking for a way to “de-dollarize”; effort to undermine the power of the dollar in international trade.
Although bitcoin was supposed to be a medium for daily transactions, its trajectory veered soon after the launch to become a means of criminal activities. And if you are not a drug dealer, there are only a few sprinkling things that you can buy with bitcoin.
The government is looking to launch its own digital currency to compete with crypto, while at the same time writing legislation to regulate them. While the regulation may still be effective in keeping the crypto market away from the Wild West, RBI’s attempt to launch CBDC, which uses similar blockchain technology, remains quixotical.
As I watch these prominent members of the crypto community trying their best to demystify cryptocurrencies, blockchain and raise their acceptance, it reminds me of that one iconic episode of Bill Gates in “ Late Show With David Letterman”. In 1995 when the internet was still a fancy, Gates struggled to convince Letterman that there was a growing phenomenon of “the internet tidal wave”. Baba Bill telepathically announced, to the post-millennial audience, how easy would it be to watch a football match on the internet, to which David comically responded, “does radio ring a bell?” And the crowd went rolling in the aisles.
Written by- Srishti Sahu
Edited by- Oishika Ghoshal