In a recent statement published on its company blog, Indian startup Zebpay argues that recent news reports have misrepresented Bitcoin’s legal status in India. Various news outlets have reported that the Indian Finance Ministry declared the digital currency illegal. Zebpay apparently disagrees with that assessment, and asserts that there has been no change in Bitcoin’s legal status within the country.
The confusion appears to be related to recent statements from Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal, whose remarks suggested that digital currency users could be putting themselves at risk of unintentionally violating the law:
“The absence of counter parties in usage of virtual currencies, including Bitcoins, for illicit and illegal activities in anonymous/pseudonymous systems could subject the users to unintentional breaches of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism laws.”
Those remarks were made in response to a Parliament member’s suggestion that Bitcoin is a ponzi scheme. As Zebpay representatives have noted, the MP’s question was a fair one, given his role as a protector for the people he represents. However, the Minister’s reply in no way indicated that the government of India views Bitcoin as illegal. According to Zebpay,
“Nothing has changed regarding bitcoin’s legal status in India this week. In our opinion, bitcoin is not illegal. Bitcoin is legal under all existing laws. It’s business as usual at all Indian bitcoin exchanges, including Zebpay.”