As regulatory glare intensifies on bitcoins due to possible money laundering, cyber security and other risks, over five dozen other virtual currencies have come under the scanner and include a local version by name of ‘laxmicoin’.
The total value of these 67 digital currencies in circulation over Internet has reached nearly $13 billion (over Rs 80,000 crore), out of which bitcoin alone accounts for over $9 billion, according to market estimates.
However, total value of bitcoin and other such virtual currency trades in India is estimated to be worth only a few crores as of now, although NRIs living abroad are expected to be dealing with bitcoins in a big way. According to those dealing in bitcoins and other such currencies, RBI’s caution notice and action initiated by enforcement agencies in the country has been a major dampener and could come in way of launch of Indian versions of such currencies and that of exchanges providing trading platforms.
A number of bitcoin operators in India have begun suspending their business following RBI’s warning against use of such virtual currencies due to potential money laundering and cyber security risks. Within four years of coming into existence, bitcoin has become the world’s most expensive currency and its per unit value soared past $1,200 level or about Rs 63,000 recently, although the prices have now slipped below Rs 50,000 level.
While four-year old bitcoin shot to prominence with its per unit value soaring past $1,200 level recently, the heavy interest in such crypto currencies has led emergence of namesakes like Ripple, Litecoin, Mastercoin, Nxt, Dogecoin etc. There is laxmicoin, which its promoters term as India’s very own digital currency and claim it would be launched soon.
A team of Enforcement Directorate officials last week raided two offices in Ahmedabad for illegally trading bitcoins. “With the shutdown of these India-based exchanges, consumers will now seek other exchanges in order to purchase Bitcoin, driving business elsewhere. To be fair, RBI’s actions are expected. Bitcoin is a new technology and its nature is very risky because its still in its infancy,” said Jinyoung Lee Englund, Director of Public Affairs, Bitcoin Foundation.