India might ban cryptocurrency and make owning crypto illegal

India is reportedly moving forward with a sweeping ban on cryptocurrencies. According to Reuters, the country’s legislature will introduce a bill that criminalizes trading, mining, issuing, transferring, or possessing cryptocurrency. The bill is likely to pass if it’s introduced, giving India some of the world’s strictest digital currency laws.

The measure is in line with a January government agenda that called for banning private virtual currencies such as bitcoin while building a framework for an official digital currency. But recent government comments had raised investors’ hopes that the authorities might go easier on the booming market.

Instead, the bill would give holders of cryptocurrencies up to six months to liquidate, after which penalties will be levied, said the official, who asked not to be named as the contents of the bill are not public.

No other large country has implemented this kind of ban on cryptocurrency. China, which has some of the harshest policies, prohibits trading coins but does not outlaw owning them.

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The in-progress proposal follows a years-long fight between cryptocurrency traders and the Indian government. India’s central bank cracked down on Bitcoin in 2018, banning banks from dealing in virtual currencies. Its Supreme Court overturned the decision in 2020, but it didn’t necessarily preclude passing a new, even stricter law — like what’s on the table now.

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