Despite a plethora of sometimes unclear regulations and restrictions, large businesses and banks in India are still embracing cryptocurrency — or at least some of the technology that underpins it — as a more reliable way to reconcile accounts, make payments, keep proper records, and manage internal funds. According to a report in the India Times, a number of Indian corporations are currently trialing blockchain technology as a means of record keeping.

Top Firms in India Eye Blockchain for Payments

Despite the traditionally hostile stance of the Reserve Bank of India on cryptocurrency exchange activities and its recent announcement that it will not be launching the mooted “Digital Rupee,” cryptocurrencies still appear to have a future in India. In the light of revelations that a lack of proper record keeping contributed to the IL&FS takeover, more large businesses are apparently willing to explore alternatives which will ensure that all financial records and contracts are properly documented.

Using blockchain technology for record-keeping practically removes the possibility of discrepancies, and it is this security functionality that makes it especially useful for large corporations with multi-level data flow. While still in it’s testing stage, sources quoted by the India Times say that the results look promising. According to them, if final results are impressive, the corporations involved have plans to scale up the whole process to cover wider areas.

unilever blockchain india
Hindustan Unilever is one of a variety of large conglomerates in India that are exploring blockchain technology for B2B payments.

Some of the big names reportedly making such moves include Hindustan Unilever, ABG Shipyard, HDFC Bank, and Reliance Industries. Right now, several pilot tests are running which use DLT strictly as a record keeping tool with hopes of balancing the books either at the end of the quarter or at the year’s end. Although there is no publicized timeline yet for the testing and proposed scale-up, stakeholders expect that blockchain technology will have a big future in the Indian corporate space.

Speaking to the India Times, Sai Venkateshwaran, a Partner and Head of CFO Advisory at KPMG India, said:

Apart from greater efficiency and accuracy, [blockchain technology] has the potential to bring enhanced levels of transparency for group treasury management and also cost savings.

Crypto Refuses to Go Away

Significant restrictions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may yet prove to be a challenge for such nascent implementations, but many experts are of the opinion that these restrictions can be circumvented if corporations keep transactions strictly in house. In addition to high levels of cryptocurrency fraud taking place in India, regulatory concern also falls on the space because of perceived problems with taxation and accounting compliance.

Despite this, according to the report, corporate stakeholders remain convinced that getting regulators on their side in an economy projected to surpass the US by 2030 is only a matter of time.

*This post is credited to CCN

Delhi cyber crime police have made further developments in the unfolding cryptocurrenvy scamrun by an organization going by the name ‘Flintstone Group’.

The group launched a fraudulent cryptocurrency called Money Trade Coin (MTC), hoodwinking 25,000 investors with promises of massive returns which, of course, never materialized. After making three arrests last year including Flintstone Group managing director Amit Lakhanpal and his chief accountant Sachin Shelar, the Delhi police cyber crime unit arrested a fourth man, Rohit Kumar, on Tuesday. A resident of Kanpur, Kumar was a collection agent working on behalf of the accused.

The Scam

The Flintstone Group went to great lengths to convince investors of the legitimacy of their project, posing as Union Finance Ministry officials at one point with fake I.D. cards and backstories. In the name of the Money Trade Coin project, they even participated in approaching the Delhi High Court to petition the central bank to reconsider its harsh stance against cryptocurrencies.

Real estate CEO and scam mastermind Lakhanpal allegedly attended events in Dubai, some of which was reportedly attended by the royal family. There he is said to have claimed that his cryptocurrency would soon be accepted by the Ministry of Finance and would be used as legal tender with which to buy real estate and that MTC had offices in the UK, Singapore, Italy, and Malaysia.

“The accused also showed prospective clients an article in an international magazine, which claimed that one of the royals was his partner,” said a police officer.

Aftermath: Scammers at Large

The scammers worked from an office in Delhi to manipulate investors into buying into the phony cryptocurrency, and 70 employees have been left stranded following the police bust. Police are now investigating the extent, if any, of their involvement in the group’s illegal activity.

Lakhanpal and chief accountant Shelar have since fled the country, perhaps to Dubai or England – however, they remain at large and their exact whereabouts are unknown.

“The accused had set up office in Delhi’s Vikram Nagar and used to collect money from investors promising high returns. Lakhanpal was earlier holed up in Dubai and we believe that he may have fled to London,” said a police source.

A case was filed against five men in total, with charges including fraud and criminal conspiracy. 53 laptops have been seized as well as rubber stamps for fake authentification of documents and the documents themselves. Incidents such as these have contributed to a negative stigma of cryptocurrencies in India with the central bank considering banning the technology altogether.

*This post is credited to CCN

This year has been particularly bad for Indian crypto traders and investors with constant government crackdowns and a shroud of uncertainty about the future of the industry in the county. That may be all about to change as a recent report indicates that regulation and legitimization could be on the way in India.

India’s Year-long Oppression of Crypto

The crackdown culminated with a ban on holding crypto assets as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) spent the best part of 2018 trying to quash them.  Banks were banned from dealing with crypto exchanges which made it very difficult to trade them using fiat without turning to OTC platforms. Court cases involving the RBI and local exchanges were postponed and delayed leaving the whole industry in a quandary as to the legality of digital currencies.

According to a recent report however things maybe about to change with a committee meeting resulting in a more lenient outcome for crypto. A senior official who attended the meeting said;

“We have already had two meetings. There is a general consensus that cryptocurrency cannot be dismissed as completely illegal. It needs to be legalised with strong riders. Deliberations are on. We will have more clarity soon,”

The first interdisciplinary committee comprised of various state and banking departments was setup by the Indian government in March 2017. By July they had recommended a total ban on digital currencies but a number of exchanges continued to operate and the public still had an appetite for crypto. The RBI and Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, enforced the harsh stance earlier this year.

A second inter-ministerial committee, led by the Department of Economic Affairs secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, was setup to take another look into crypto asset viability. Some of the ministers on this new panel attended the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires where crypto regulations, not outright bans, were recommended.

According to the report these ministers are likely to share insights garnered at the global summit and make recommendations based on them for the Indian situation. The next committee meeting is scheduled for January 2019 and observers are optimistic about a turnaround in stance on crypto assets.

“We have also taken inputs from cryptocurrency exchanges and experts and will be examining legal issues with the law ministry. It’s a complicated issue. Once all aspects are decided, then we will have more clarity,” the official added.

If India does loosen its grip and allows regulated crypto trading to flourish, it could open up one of the largest markets on the planet.

*This post is credited to NewsBTC

The three-day event offered an opportunity for the global businesses in Blockchain to look into expansion of their operations in Kerala as well as across the country.

Thiruvananthapuram: India has the potential to be a leader in the Blockchain revolution, Canadian expert Bob Tapscott said here on Saturday. “When I was working in Silicon Valley, it was staggering to see the percentage of products created by people in India that has perfect ecosystem getting ready with talent and skill.

“Considering the talent in the country, I can clearly say India has the capability to lead Blockchain revolution,” said Tapscott at the “BlockHash Live 2018” summit organised by the Kerala Blockchain Academy (KBA) here.

The three-day event offered an opportunity for the global businesses in Blockchain to look into expansion of their operations in Kerala as well as across the country.

“Canada is aspiring in this field while Switzerland has taken the lead in crypto but not necessarily the lead in Blockchain revolution. In terms of knowledge, capability and technology, India is in a position to lead,” Tapscott stressed. He, however, said Blockchain would not eliminate jobs in the future.

“Instead, it has the potential to eliminate unnecessary intermediaries and making organisations more efficient. In fact, it’s a job creator. In case of Artificial Intelligence (AI), drivers are working in warehouses and working as cooks as AI technology eliminates jobs,” the expert emphasised.

*This post is credited to Times Now News

The possible outlawing of virtual coins would likely cover trading on exchanges and the use of those assets as a payment method, a government press release has indicated.

India’s central authorities are considering the imposition of a ban on cryptocurrency, according to a press release published by the central government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) on Tuesday. The plan includes the prohibition of “private” virtual coins while at the same time encouraging the use of their underlying blockchain technology.

The PIB’s press release covered the outcomes of the nineteenth meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), chaired by the Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley. The main focus of discussion was the international and domestic situation and financial sector performance.

Moreover, one of the meeting’s topics was High-level Committee “deliberations” led by Economic Secretary Shri Subhash Chandra Garg to outlaw private digital currencies. Last year, the Finance Ministry set up a special interdisciplinary committee to analyze crypto in terms of existing laws. However, until this week, no indication had been given of a possible prohibition.

The language of PIB’s press release suggests that the ban would likely cover trading on exchanges and using virtual coins as a payment method, but did not indicate the government’s position about the holding of those assets.

Also, the term ‘private’ shows that state authorities do not want to prohibit central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank confirmed in August that it is working on a CBDC project.

“The Council also deliberated on the issues and challenges of Crypto Assets/Currency and was briefed about the deliberations in the High-level Committee chaired by the Secretary (Economic Affairs) to devise an appropriate legal framework to ban use of private cryptocurrencies in India and encouraging the use of Distributed Ledger Technology, as announced in the Budget 2018-19,” the press release reads.

The FSDC meeting came several days after the country’s Supreme Court ordered the government to send its position about cryptocurrency as part of the legal battle between the central bank and several crypto companies over the RBI ban on domestic banks to provide services to digital asset firms.

*This post is credited to CryptoVest

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has done its best to keep cryptocurrency from taking hold in the country, despite not having investigated its merits. RBI introduced a ban that forbid banks to deal with any entities in the crypto space, resulting in several deciding to move out of the country or shut down completely. Despite the bank’s attempts, cryptocurrency in the country is still moving forward, demonstrating the power crypto has and how it cannot be eliminated.

In light of the RBI ban and crypto exchanges’ inability to function normally, a number of peer-to-peer (P2P) exchanges are cropping up. According to a number of sources, P2P crypto services have grabbed hold in the country and are expanding more rapidly than anyone could have imagined. In an interview with Bitcoin.com, the CEO of the Wazirx crypto exchange, Nischal Shetty, said, “In a bear market with no banking, Indians are warming up to P2P in amazing ways.” Wazirx, which began operating a week before the RBI ban, saw an increase in trading volumes of 35% by the end of September.

He further asserted, “P2P is working great for Wazirx. It’s helping us increase our daily trading volumes as well. In fact a few days ago we hit 100 BTC in daily trading volume for the first time…We’ve crossed over $5M in P2P in the 3 months since we’ve gone live.”

According to a recent survey led by the Instashift crypto exchange, which provides support for more than 80 digital currencies, the majority of those who responded to the survey indicated that they prefer to cash out through P2P services. Instashift now has more than 900 members and says, “We are clocking approximately around [$27,194 – $67,985] per week in India & our volumes are looking promising in Canada & Nigeria as well.”

Another P2P option is Coindcx. It also supports over 80 cryptocurrencies, allowing its users to trade the coins for rupees. It operates the Dcxinsta P2P trading platform, which gives users a platform to purchase crypto “in less than 60 seconds.” Last week, the company launched a new rupee open order book on the exchange, allowing users to “place limit orders for trading in INR and see a complete order book using their existing INR wallets.”

Just a few days ago, India saw its first cryptocurrency ATM. It is owned by the Unocoin crypto exchange and is available only for its customers, but the company indicates that it plans on installing as many as 30 more machines across the country.

Regardless of what the naysayers would have everyone believe, cryptocurrency is here and it is here to stay. Instead of working against its expansion, they should use that energy to help the ecosystem grow and mature in a way that can be beneficial to everyone.

*This post is credited to CoinGeek

Singapore based fintech company LALA World has launched a blockchain based payments application for iOS in India and the UAE. The app will facilitate users to pay mobile and utility bills such as telephone, gas, broadband, electricity, etc., the company said in a press release. According to the company’s website, the ‘LALA’ ecosystem is built around four key products – LALA Transfer, LALA Card, LALA Bill Pay and LALA Lends.

In India, the application currently supports 25 different utility service providers and 29 different DTH and mobile service providers. Users will be required to create a blockchain based ‘LALA ID’ to avail the said services. An Android version of the application is already available through Google Play Store.

LALA World claims to have launched a mobile wallet app, LALA Wallet, in the country for Android devices in July. Going forward, LALA World plans to launch LALA Transfer, an International remittance service and a Crypto Lending service ‘for crypto friendly nations.’

 

Loans through Rising Straits Finance

While the Economic Times reports that LALA World currently only facilitates bill payments in India, a blog post by the company claims that it has already commenced lending operations in the country. The company claims to provide loan services in the country through Rising Straits Finance Pvt. Ltd, a non-banking financial company (NBFC). Explaining its strategy in the segment, the company said that it plans to offer loans in two segments in the first phase – Micro and Nano Credit (MANC) for individuals and MSME Loans for Micro Entrepreneurship.

According to the company, there are over 600 functional NBFCs in India, however, LALA LENDS stands out owing to its usage of Blockchain, which is impossible to tamper. Further, it claims that the company maintains its margins despite reducing costs for the end users, as the state of the art loan origination, credit underwriting (LALA Score) and disbursement technologies, help maintain efficiency and cut costs in its processes.

Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Singapore, LALA World is a technology company which uses blockchain to create a connected financial ecosystem for the unbanked. It is present in 5 countries and has over 100 global partners including government agencies and NGOs. Its vision is to reach 100 million people by 2020 and bring financial services to the disadvantaged around the world, according to its website.

Blockchain developments in India

– This week, reports claimed that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a new unit within the central bank to track emerging technologies like cryptocurrency, blockchain and artificial intelligence.

–  Late last year, Axis Bank started cross-border payments on blockchain using fintech company Ripple’s technology.

– SBI said that it will be deploying a smart contract for KYC solution over the blockchain.

– YES Bank is using a smart contract developed by fintech startup Cateina Technologies on a blockchain which will allow Bajaj Electricals to process disbursement of funds and discounting to its vendors.

– In October 2016, ICICI Bank created a blockchain application and piloted transactions on its blockchain network in partnership with Emirates NBD, a banking group in the Middle East.

*This post is credited to Medianama.

Paul Ulrich says the technology allows multiple untrusting parties to access the same database in near-real time, bringing the advantages of speed and privacy protection. Such a decentralised approach to setting up a do-not-call registry may prove a better solution to the problem of unwanted calls.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that enable transactions outside the regulated financial sector have attracted the attention of regulators worldwide and, at times, drawn the scorn of luminaries such as investor Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Some countries have banned cryptocurrencies and the exchanges that trade them, some have offered support, while others such as South Korea have been mercurial — first threatening to ban trading in digital currencies, then changing their tack.

The ambivalence, however, does not extend to distributed ledger technology, the platform commonly known as blockchain that underpins and enables cryptocurrencies. Blockchain, essentially a chain of encrypted records of transactions, is a new, rapidly evolving use of existing technologies that promises to make a wide array of industries and government functions more efficient. Ahead of regulators, the likes of the Big Four accounting firms, Microsoft and Amazon have embraced the technology and offered blockchain services.

And on July 19, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India became the first regulator in the world to harness blockchain technology to curb what it called the “menace” of spam calls and unwanted messages, which plagues phone users from Delhi to Detroit.

Organisations should not blindly retrofit their existing, often centralised database systems with blockchain technology. Just as most people have not abandoned their familiar paid version of Microsoft Word in favour of a free Google word processor, IT managers are unlikely to switch from what they are used to unless they see benefits by orders of magnitude: revenues that are 10 times higher or costs that are 10 times lower. But when blockchain can speed things up dramatically – reducing a process that once took days to a matter of minutes – it may be time to consider a change.

Still, one must also determine whether the adoption of blockchain technology makes sense for a particular use. In the case of India’s unsolicited telemarketing calls and messages, the country’s telecoms regulator seems to have recognised the three factors that make blockchain the preferred solution.

Firstly, multiple untrusting parties can write to the same database.

Secondly, the regulator does not want a third-party intermediary to manage the interactions.

Thirdly, data entries in the database cannot be independent of each other; any change to one record will affect other records or applications using them.

With the adoption of blockchain technology, those who make or terminate a telemarketing call, send a commercial message and log a customer’s preference or complaint will all be able the access, in near-real time and under privacy protection, the same database and the same verified information.

Effectively, India’s telecoms regulator has delegated the central management of customer preferences to the different companies, which now enter records into a database of entries that are unalterably linked to earlier ones.

The regulator also expects the telecoms operators to acknowledge customers’ preferences and complaints within 15 minutes, instead of the one week it used to take under the old system. It has even proposed, but not required, the use of artificial intelligence to help detect the telltale signs or digital signatures of those who abuse the system and make automated calls to hundreds or thousands of people at the same time.

One wonders whether Hong Kong or other jurisdictions will follow India’s lead to automate and modernise the systems of tracking customer preferences for do-not-call registries. In Hong Kong, a request to stop receiving pre-recorded messages still takes two weeks to take effect, and cold calls made by humans go unchecked.

Furthermore, while India’s approach allows consumers to choose the type, source and time of day for commercial messages they are willing to receive, Hong Kong’s system is still all-or-nothing.

Paul Ulrich advises governments in the Asia-Pacific on mobile communications-related policy on behalf of the GSM Association, a global trade body representing mobile network operators. This article represents his personal views and does not necessarily reflect those of the GSMA, its members, or associate members