Will cryptocurrencies become official tender in India?
In a bizarre incident that took place recently in a small village Ujire of Karnataka, two unidentified tech-savvy abductors asked a businessman father to pay them 100 Bitcoins (or ₹ 17 crore) as a ransom amount for the safe release of a minor.
The episode only tells us how popular Bitcoin has become today as a mode of transaction. As most of us know, that Bitcoin's price has reached the extreme heights. To put things in perspective, the virtual currency is currently trading at $23,000 (or ₹ 17 lakh). More surprisingly, its price is predicted to cross ₹50 lakh - or even ₹1 crorenext year.
The question is where do we stand on this front? Ambiguity continues on cryptocurrencies' circulation in the country as the government is yet to give its go-ahead for making it a legal tender.
Supreme Court has already given a go-ahead to the virtual currency. It is followed by the RBI's lifting its ban on the currency, which operates through blockchain. Buoyed by this, a host of companies and exchanges ventured into the cryptocurrency trades.
It is a harsh truth that Bitcoin is emerging as an alternative investment class like precious metal. Not only that, it is also fast emerging as an alternative tool of investment in certain parts of the world.
Let us have a look at what is happening over this globally. Well, MicroStrategy, a business analytics and mobility platform, has included Bitcoin in their company's treasuries.
Payment rails like PayPal and Square are integrating cryptocurrencies in their services. Of late, MassMutual, an insurance giant, made its way into Bitcoin investments. Additionally, Alan Howard, a billionaire hedge fund manager, is among the backers of a new institutional-focused investment firm called One River Asset Management that is eyeing as much as $1 billion allocation to Bitcoin.
So, Michael J Saylor was not wrong when he defined Bitcoin as a bank in cyberspace, run by incorruptible software.
There is one more feature attached to the virtual currency. In case it is allowed to be traded officially in the country then the remittance -inward or outward-that is anyway increasing day by day - would get cheaper. Such a development renders currency transactions akin to email transactions: Swift and virtually real time.
One can hope that the ensuing Budget will break the barriers to Bitcoin, paving the way for it becoming an official currency in the country.