A number of Bitcoin exchanges in India, including the country’s largest trading platform, BuySellBitco, have suspended operations this week.
The halt comes in response to a statement issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Christmas Eve, warning consumers about the potential dangers associated with decentralized digital currencies. Ajit Prasad, the RBI’s Assistant General Manager, cautioned “the users, holders and traders of Virtual currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins, about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to.”
The Reserve Bank of India’s subsequent announcement that they are “examining the issues associated with the usage, holding and trading of VCs under the extant legal and regulatory framework of the country,” has left virtual currency traders fearing a government crack-down on “unintentional breaches” of anti-money laundering and financial terrorism laws.
Unlike the recent actions we’ve seen in China, policy makers in India have stopped short of issuing any bans or directly prohibiting trading in bitcoins.
Still, the country’s top exchanges have not taken the warning lightly. Reuters reports that INRBTC, another large trading platform in India, had no choice but to “suspended its services indefinitely” amidst concerns that both they and their customers are “exposed [to] both legal and financial risks.”
While India’s growing interest in Bitcoin may have been temporarily stunted in the wake of the announcements, the price of the currency hasn’t been so reactionary, trading at $795 at the time of publication. BuySellBitco.in made it clear in a notice on their homepage that the precautionary suspension of operations is “being done to protect the interest of our customers and in no way is a reflection of Bitcoin’s true potential or price.”