15:21 GMT24 November 2020
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    Indian police seized the country’s first Bitcoin ATM just a little more than a week after it was installed.

    The country, once a hub for the exchange of cryptocurrency, has seen its crypto economy fall from grace amid a number of crackdowns by the government.

    The most recent instance of crypto suppression was the police raid on a kiosk run by a 37-year-old man in the "Silicon Valley of India" in the city of Bengaluru. Authorities seized the ATM, two laptops, a phone, credit cards, a passport, company papers and cash.

    Sathvik Viswanath, the co-founder of Unocoin, "India's leading crypto asset and blockchain company," according to its Twitter bio, told media that cryptocurrency isn't technically illegal in India, though it is risky to use.

    "We got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018," he said. "The minister's statement was clear: Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender.' There's a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment, and there's no regulation for the industry." 

    To be clear, that distinction is one made by Viswanath, not by the government. In April, crypto was banned outright in India, according to Asia Times. Earlier this year in a budget speech, India's Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley did not outright say that crypto is not illegal tender, but he made clear that he did not approve of its use, saying, "The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take measures to eliminate use of these crypto assets in financing illegitimate activities." 

    In July, the Reserve Bank of India set a three-month deadline for crypto exchanges to petition the Supreme Court over the bank's crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges and accounts used to trade such currencies, and restrictions on crypto remain in effect. The court case addressing the bank's policies has been postponed again as well, Asia Times notes.

    In late September, India's longest-running and largest exchange Zebpay shut down, writing in a blog post, "The curb on bank accounts has crippled our, and our customers', ability to transact business meaningfully."

    Other exchanges are reportedly waiting for the Supreme Court to make further judgments on crypto.


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