JAN 3, 2024
Indian Web3 industry body campaigned for ‘level playing field’
An industry advocacy body for crypto and Web3 in India, had urged the Indian government to take action against nine offshore exchanges, prompting the government to issue show cause notices and block URLs recently.
Native industry pushback
According to CoinDesk, the publication has seen a copy of a letter that was sent in mid-December by the Bharat Web3 Association (BWA), addressed to the Indian Finance Ministry’s Department of Revenue Secretary, Sanjay Malhotra.
The letter was penned by BWA Chairman Dilip Chenoy. Chenoy has been in the role since March of last year having a number of years of leadership experience within Indian industry bodies under his belt, with time spent previously as Secretary General of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and as Chairman of the board of Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology.
According to its LinkedIn profile, the BWA seeks to “advocate for the collaboration between the regulatory bodies and the Industry for creating awareness about the new age technology and the emerging [Web3/crypto] asset class.”
‘Show cause’ notices
It emerged last week that India’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had issued “compliance show-cause” notices to a number of overseas crypto platforms who have otherwise been active within the Indian market. The FIU is a national body tasked with liaising with and providing information to enforcement agencies where suspected illicit transactions are concerned.
The offshore exchanges, including Binance, KuCoin, Huobi, Kraken, Gate.io, Bittrex, Bitstamp, MEXC Global and Bitfinex, have been given a two-week deadline to respond to the show cause notice. This notice questions why regulatory actions should not be taken against them, aiming to ensure compliance with the country's financial regulations. It’s understood that the BWA's letter requested a one-month grace period for offshore exchanges to register with the FIU.
It remains unclear whether the government's actions were solely prompted by the BWA's letter or if it would have taken place independently. Notably, the BWA's letter aligns with the government's earlier mandate in March, requiring crypto businesses to register with the FIU and adhere to anti-money laundering processes under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Since then, 31 domestic entities have registered with the FIU.
Ensuring a fair game
The BWA's letter also proposes that offshore exchanges establish an Indian subsidiary, deposit the applicable tax deducted at source (TDS) from July 1, 2022 and face restrictions, including potential access blocks on mobile app stores and IP addresses, for non-compliance. While it's unclear if all these requests feature in the show cause notices, the BWA emphasizes the need for fair competition.
Rajagopal Menon, Vice President of leading Indian crypto exchange WazirX, stressed that “all we are asking for is a level playing field." The BWA's letter also urges the government to grant Indian retailers a 30-day window to withdraw assets before implementing any restrictions.
The fledgling BWA industry body recently celebrated its first anniversary with its founding member, CoinSwitch founder Ashish Singhal, stating that he got involved with the BWA “to help build an effective regulatory framework for Web3 and digital assets in India.” Singhal added that the BWA’s mission is “to help India realize its vision to be the leading digital economy.”