The Indian government and the country’s banking sector’s negative stance against the cryptocurrency industry have reached new heights. The Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd [HDFC], the largest private lender in India has been ramping up its efforts in opposition of the country’s cryptocurrency industry.
According to a tweet by Indian virtual currency proponent Indian CryptoGirl, HDFC has begun disseminating “threatening” e-mails to those users who purchased cryptocurrencies. In what is already a tumultuous environment for virtual currencies in the South Asian country, things look to get worse.
The tweet further stated that users would have to “clarify” the nature of their transaction within a 30-day period, failing which the bank would “freeze” the account. A screenshot of a message, presumably sent to a customer from HDFC, stated:
“We have observed that Virtual Currency transactions are reflected in your account and, as per RBI guidelines it is not permitted.”
HDFC stated that they would “restrict transactions” with respect to the stated account if the customer did not make clear the nature of the transactions within the aforementioned period. The bank added, referencing a recent RBI guideline:
“Banks are advised to exercise due diligence by closely examining the transactions carried out in the account on an ongoing basis to caution users, holders and traders of Virtual Currencies (VCs) including Bitcoins regarding risks.”
A screenshot of the same is given below:
This is not HDFC’s first regulatory backlash against the country’s cryptocurrency sector. In January, the bank tracked cryptocurrency-related transactions to certain user accounts and made them sign consent forms. The consent form was a precursor to the bank shutting such accounts if crypto-trading persists.
Other Indian banks including Kotak Bank and Digibank have also sent similar notices to customers suspected of trading virtual currencies.
Recently, a report by the Economic Times, an Indian financial daily, stated that a draft titled the “Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019” was circulated among several government agencies overseeing taxes, customs, and investor education.
The draft stated that “there is an urgent need to ban sale purchase and issuance of cryptocurrency”. However, the “final law” will only be tabled before the next government, following the country’s general elections, by the end of May.
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