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History of the cryptocurrency market in India

History of the cryptocurrency market in India

History of the cryptocurrency market in India
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By Shubham Srivastav  Jun 29, 2021 9:58:29 PM IST (Updated)

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SUMMARY

Cryptocurrency has been in the news lately following wild price swings and with a boom in trading induced by the lockdown that meant several newcomers have started dabbling in the asset class. But the sword of regulatory uncertainty hangs heavy on the cryptocurrency market in India, what with policymakers making their discomfort with the asset quite clear through various suggestions and decisions in the past. Here’s a quick history of the cryptocurrency market in India. 

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Cryptocurrency has been in the news lately following wild price swings and with a boom in trading induced by the lockdown that meant several newcomers have started dabbling in the asset class. But the sword of regulatory uncertainty hangs heavy on the cryptocurrency market in India, what with policymakers making their discomfort with the asset quite clear through various suggestions and decisions in the past. Here’s a quick history of the cryptocurrency market in India. 

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2008: A person or a group of persons operating under the pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ publishes a paper outlining the concept of Bitcoin.

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2010: The first commercial transaction takes place in Bitcoin.

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2013: Cryptocurrency exchange Unocoin launches, making it accessible for Indians to buy and sell Bitcoin. In the same year, Bitcoin rises from $100 to $1,000. RBI issues an advisory against cryptocurrencies, warning the public against use of virtual currencies, adding that their prices were a “matter of speculation” in the absence of backing by an asset or reserves.  (Image: Shutterstock)

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2014-2016: The price of the cryptocurrency remains largely sideways even as several new exchanges come up in India. Exchanges see a spike in users after demonetisation. 

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2017: Bitcoin price spikes sharply from a low of about $2,500 to a high of nearly $20,000. Search interest in bitcoin goes up 20x, according to data from Google Trends. But the regulatory cloud over cryptocurrency darkens, with the RBI and Finance Ministry cautioning the public against the cryptocurrency. The Finance Ministry compares cryptocurrencies with ponzi schemes. A committee comprising FinMin, RBI and SEBI members is formed to look at the regulation over the asset. Two PILs are filed against the use of cryptocurrencies in the Supreme Court. (Image: IANS)

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March 2018: WazirX, which would go on to be acquired by Binance and become India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, commences operations. (Image: Company website)

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April 6, 2018: The RBI issues a circular banning all financial entities from dealing with any entity dealing in cryptocurrencies, effectively banning the asset class in India. (Image: Reuters)

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May 2018: Several cryptocurrency exchanges approach the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the RBI’s ban on cryptocurrencies.  

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October 2018: WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty starts #IndiaWantsCrypto campaign tweeting daily about the need for conducive crypto regulation. The campaign has been running for 971 days straight. (Image: CNBC-TV18, YouTube)

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March 2020: Supreme Court overturns RBI’s ban. Interest in cryptocurrencies spikes globally following the COVID-19 lockdown and prices start rising after an initial correction. Bitcoin goes up from about USD 3,700 to nearly USD 30,000 by the end of the year. 

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2021: Prices nearly double again, with Bitcoin topping out at nearly $64,000, before halving in price. Banks issue advisory cautioning clients against cryptocurrency citing RBI’s 2018 circular. The central bank says its circular is no longer valid in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling. (Image: Reuters)

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