Indian Government’s Crypto Ban Results In Facebook Canceling Libra Launch In The Country
India had been considered to be the perfect market to launch Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra. The social media giant’s users in India have doubled since 2015 to about 310 million and are forecast to surge to around 440 million by 2023.
However, the draconian anti-crypto bias of the government has led Facebook to cancel its India launch.
The Indian government and policymakers have kept an unfavorable attitude towards cryptos and have been merciless in their stand so far. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a controversial circular dated 6 April 2018 which effectively placed a ban on cryptocurrencies in India which forced all the entities regulated by RBI to prohibit dealing in digital assets. Several unproven reports show that the government has concluded a draft bill banning cryptocurrencies called the Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2019.
This was destined to be a problem for Facebook. Subhash Garg, India's Economic Affairs Secretary said:
“Design of the Facebook currency has not been fully explained. But whatever it is, it would be a private cryptocurrency and that's not something we have been comfortable with.”
The Libra blockchain will be global, but it'll be up to the Calibra providers to determine where they'll operate the wallet service. It also won't be available in any US-sanctioned countries, or countries that ban cryptocurrencies, which now includes India.
Alexandru Voica, a Facebook representative in London said:
“Calibra will respect the legislation. We are looking to work with regulators to see if the legislation can be updated.”
In an Email to Economics times, India’s biggest Finance newspaper, a spokesperson for Facebook said:
“There are no plans to offer Calibra in India. As you may know, there are local restrictions within India that made a launch of Calibra not possible at this time.”
This a major set back for both Facebook and the citizens of the country who would have benefited by this service and removed the stigma around cryptos.