How to buy and sell bitcoins? Are bitcoins legal in India?
Even as economies like Japan and Russia move to legalize the use of Bitcoins, India, despite being at the cusp of a digital revolution is yet to officially recognize the cryptocurrency.
With a 300 per cent increase in its value in just one year, Bitcoins could well be the kind of investment you may be looking for. However, in spite of all the curiosity, many of us have wondered if it is safe to buy, store and sell bitcoins in India. In the news recently for being the only payment method to pay ransoms to WannaCry attackers, Bitcoins can be used for a host of other things. And countries such as Japan and South Korea are leading the way. One of Japan's biggest electronics retailers, Bic Camera, began accepting bitcoin at two stores in Tokyo last month. Another Japanese firm, Recruit Lifestyle announced it will add bitcoin acceptance to its mobile point of sale tool AirRegi, which is used in 260,000 merchant and restaurant locations across Japan. How are Bitcoins created? Unlike paper currencies, Bitcoins cannot be minted, they can only be mined. There are only 21 million bitcoins that have been created. At present, only 16.8 million or 80 per cent of all the bitcoins have been mined. How to buy Bitcoins? You can look for various digital currency exchanges to buy bitcoin. You can purchase Bitcoins with a credit card. Coinbase.com and Coindesk.com are the most popular exchanges. They also offer tutorials on digital currencies. In India, you can purchase Bitcoin from Zebpay exchange. Zebpay has Android and iPhone app which lets you link your bank account for quick transfers. You can buy Bitcoins by making a payment to Zebpay's bank account. You can also withdraw the money to your bank account, and track data on Bitcoin valuation in the country. There is a KYC requirement and you need to verify your ID by simply clicking a photo of your PAN card. Unocoin, another India-based exchange, lets you trade Bitcoins. They can help you buy, sell, store, use and accept bitcoin. The company claims it has over 1,50,000 customers.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government going the whole hog to make India a less cash economy, digital cryptocurrency has caught the attention of many Indians. Post demonetisation, leading Bitcoin exchanges in India witnessed a rise in user base by up to 250 per cent. Sathvik Vishwanath, CEO of popular bitcoin wallet Unocoin had told BT that after demonetisation demand from India has increased manifold. Sandeep Goenka, CEO of Zebpay, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges in the country had said, "Indians are enquiring about bitcoins as an alternative and safe investment option. They are downloading Zebpay as they want to experiment with digital currencies. There has been a 50% increase in Zebpay downloads."
To be able to store Bitcoins, you'll need a wallet which can be in your computer or smartphone. You can back up the wallet at another location so that you don't lose data if your hard drive crashes. Depending on your requirement, you can choose a wallet. How much returns can you get if you invest in Bitcoins? The decentralized virtual currency that took the world by storm has witnessed a 300 per cent rise in value in just one year. Its value hit an all-time high when Japan passed a law to accept bitcoin as a legal payment method. Despite RBI's reluctance to recognize the cyptocurrency, the interest in Bitcoins in India has not waned. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation move, Ahmedabad-based bitcoin trading start-up Zebpay witnessed a 25 per cent surge in revenue. Unocoin, another bitcoin trading firm which had received funds from Blume Ventures, saw a threefold rise in its user base to 1,20,000 following demonetisation.
Value of Bitcoins may not come down as there are limited number of Bitcoins and everyday more and more people are showing interest in investing in the cryptocurrency. Are Bitcoins legal in India? Even as economies like Japan and Russia move to legalize the use of Bitcoins, India, despite being at the cusp of a digital revolution is yet to officially recognize the cryptocurrency. India's central bank, the Reserve bank of India or the RBI, which regulates Indian rupee, had earlier cautioned users, holders and traders of Virtual currencies (VCs), including Bitcoins. "The creation, trading or usage of VCs including Bitcoins, as a medium for payment are not authorised by any central bank or monetary authority. No regulatory approvals, registration or authorisation is stated to have been obtained by the entities concerned for carrying on such activities," the central bank had said. In March, RBI Deputy Governor R Gandhi warned against crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. "They pose potential financial, legal, customer protection and security-related risks," Gandhi said. "Payments by such currencies are on a peer-to- peer basis and there is no established framework for recourse to customer problems, disputes, etc. Legal status is definitely not there," he added. However, the central bank hasn't unequivocally banned Bitcoins in the country. Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin Although Bitcoin is yet to become mainstream in India, the underlying technology behind it, the blockchain technology has caught the attention of several Indian banks. Last year, ICICI Bank announced that it successfully executed transactions in international trade finance and remittances using blockchain technology.