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Top Indian tech advocacy group drops crypto over regulatory uncertainty

·3-min read

The leading influential technology lobby group in India is turning its back on advocating for crypto in a major setback for the local ecosystem in the South Asian nation.

Internet and Mobile Association of India, an 18-year-old lobby group, said Thursday it is dissolving the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council, its four-year endeavor to support and lobby for the nascent technology category.

The association said in a statement that it was forced to take the decision because “a resolution of the regulatory environment for the industry is still very uncertain.”

“The association would like to utilise its limited resources for other emerging digital sectors, which make a more immediate and direct contribution to digital India, notably, deepening financial inclusion and promoting Central Bank issued Digital Currency [CBDC]. Members of the BACC were informed about the decision at a meeting held here today,” it said.

The move is the culmination of years of frustration for the Indian crypto industry, which has felt that the lobby group’s influence and reach have been unable to deliver enough landmark results, people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The IAMAI felt that it was risking its reputation by continuing to push for the adoption and support for crypto, two different people familiar with the matter said.

Regardless, the discontinuation of the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council brings the local industry back to the drawing board at a time when local exchanges and other crypto firms are seeing a sharp decline in trading volume in the wake of India enforcing taxation on the virtual digital assets.

The Indian central bank continues to force the hand of banks from engaging with crypto platforms in India, a move that has made on-ramp a nightmare for the firms, people familiar with the matter said.

Many investors and entrepreneurs in the country have been scrambling for months to find newer, more effective ways including engaging with Niti Aayog, a powerful think tank, to liaison with policymakers, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said. Niti Aayog has largely resisted involvement with the crypto industry, sources said.

Indian lawmakers, on their part, have met several industry faces in the past one year, but so far they are of the view that the fast adoption of crypto trading has hurt most consumers and more safeguards should be put in place, the sources said.

In the wake of the uncertainty, the local ecosystem has seen some talent move outside of the country and a growing number of local entrepreneurs build for the foreign markets and avoid serving customers in India, the world's second-largest internet market.

"Our stated belief as industry has always been to have sustainable dialogue with regulators and stakeholders and address concerns for progressive regulations. As an industry we will continue to positively engage with all stakeholders and continue to build emerging tech including Web 3.0," said Ashish Singhal, co-founder and chief executive of CoinSwitch Kuber, and Sumit Gupta, co-founder and chief executive of CoinDCX, in a joint statement. The duo served as chair and co-chair of BACC.

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