Global Economy

Government yet to take a view on regulating crypto advertisements: FM Sitharaman

The government is looking into the advertising watchdog’s guidelines and regulations to see what can be done to address the concerns over misleading cryptocurrency advertisements, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

She did directly respond to the query if the government will ban such advertising.

The government would bring a bill on cryptocurrency soon after it is approved by the union cabinet, the minister said.

“About the misleading advertisements and about are we banning them… Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI ), which governs all advertisements, their guidelines are being studied and the regulations that they have are all being looked into so that we can take, if necessary, some kind of position to a decision to say how we are going to handle this,” Sitharaman said, responding to a question from Sushil Kumar Modi, former Bihar deputy chief minister.

Cryptocurrency advertisements without any disclaimer or caution for investors had also figured in the meeting taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in early November.

The minister said there had been statements and there was an awareness building attempt to say that this is a “risky area” and people indulging in it should be conscious as to what they were doing in the area that is not yet in a complete regulatory framework.

She said all steps were being taken to caution youngsters by the government, market regulator Sebi and Reserve Bank.

She said the bill that was listed in the previous session had not been introduced as the government wanted to include other dimensions that had emerged subsequently.

“The earlier attempt was definitely to come up with a Bill that the house can consider. But, later, because rapidly a lot of things had to come into play, we had started working on a new Bill. This is the Bill that is now being proposed,” she said, adding that the bill once cleared by the cabinet will come to the house.

The government has listed a Bill on Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency for introduction in the Lok Sabha among the bills lined up to be taken up during the winter session.

The Bill seeks to create a facilitative framework for the creation of the official digital currency to be issued by RBI. It also seeks to prohibit all private cryptocurrencies in India, while allowing for certain exceptions to promote the underlying technology of cryptocurrency and its uses.

On concerns of misuse of cryptocurrencies by the anti-national forces, she said these matters were being monitored by various agencies.

Asked about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and if the government was contemplating a regulation, she said the government was discussing it, but declined to give further details as the bill was to be introduced in the house soon. She said everything may or may not be covered in the bill but the issues pertaining to regulatory capacities and also the fact that it has proliferated in the last two-three years have been taken note of.

She said there was no ready information on income tax collected on cryptocurrencies


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