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Coinbase blames 'soft pressure' from government, RBI for halting trading in India

Coinbase blames 'soft pressure' from government, RBI for halting trading in India
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Almost a month after suspending the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) service on its platform, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has said that the company was forced to take the step because elements in the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were not very positive on cryptocurrencies.   

Coinbase had launched it trading service in India through UPI and pulled the plug on the option to purchase cryptocurrencies through this route on April 10. 

“The Supreme Court has ruled that they (government) can’t ban crypto, but there are elements in the government, including at Reserve Bank of India, who don’t seem to be as positive on it,” Armstrong said at earnings call on Tuesday.   

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“Basically, they’re applying soft pressure behind the scenes to try to disable some of these payments, which might be going through UPI,” Armstrong added.   

Right after the news of Coinbase’s launch in the country broke on April 7, the official Twitter handle of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) posted that it wasn’t aware of any crypto platform using UPI. 

Also read: Investors seek regulatory clarity on crypto after exchanges disable deposits

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“With reference to some recent media reports around the purchase of cryptocurrencies using UPI, National Payments Corporation of India would like to clarify that we are not aware of any crypto exchange using UPI,” the payments body said in the tweet.   

NPCI is the specialised division of the RBI and comes under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry. 

“A few days after launching, we ended up disabling UPI because of some informal pressure from the Reserve Bank of India,” claimed Armstrong.   

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Armstrong even went on to say that the statement by RBI could be in violation of a Supreme Court ruling in March 2020 which removed a ban on crypto trading. The Apex court cited that cryptocurrency was not illegal, even though they were unregulated in the country.   

The CEO added that Coinbase will be live back in India in “relatively short order” and is pursing similar international expansion into other countries.  

The government is currently working on a Bill that will regulate virtual digital assets in the country, including cryptocurrencies.  

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