Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today held an inter-ministerial meeting to examine risks related to virtual currencies (VCs) like bitcoins. Although several issues concerning bitcoins were discussed, no decision was taken, sources said. The meeting was attended by IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Economic Affairs Secretary Tapan Ray, Financial Services Secretary Anjuly Chib Duggal and other senior officials. The government has been debating over issues concerning bitcoins and had last month sought public opinion on allowing virtual currencies.
The circulation of VCs has been a cause of concern among central bankers the world over for quite a while now. Reserve Bank of India had also cautioned the users, holders and traders of VCs, including bitcoins. In March, the Finance Ministry had constituted an Inter- Disciplinary Committee to take stock of the present status of VCs both in India and globally and suggest measures for dealing with such currencies.
Bitcoins were in news recently after a massive global ransomware attack ‘WannaCry’ hit systems in over 100 countries. The cyber criminals demanded a fee of about USD 300 in crypto-currencies like bitcoin for unlocking affected devices. Recently, a domestic app-based bitcoin exchange Zebpay said it has five lakh downloads on the Android operating system and was adding more than 2,500 users every day.