Nandan Nilekani: Crypto can bring about financial inclusion

In the midst of uncertainty about the fate cryptocurrency in India, Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Chairman, stated that crypto assets could be used for financial inclusion.

At the Reuters Next Conference, Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, stated that crypto assets have a place but that they must follow all laws to prevent money laundering.

As the tech tzar, Nilekani has advised successive governments on tech-related policy issues. He is considered the architect of Aadhaar, and was UIDAI chairman in 2009. He was part of a panel that advised the Centre on ecommerce in July 2009.

His comments on crypto assets follow a day in which Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave a glimmer for the crypto industry when she stated to the Parliament that her government would introduce a new Bill on cryptocurrency once it has been approved by the Union Cabinet.

Sitharaman stated that the Centre could replace the Bill draft. This reportedly suggested that India would “prohibit all private cryptocurrency in India”, with certain exceptions for the promotion of the technology.

Moneycontrol reported earlier that the names of the 2019 and 2020 bills were different. The name of the previous bill suggested that there was a blanket ban – the ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019,’ but the current bill is called ‘Cryptocurrency Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021’.

Industry leaders who saw a silver lining in November’s statement by the Finance Minister in the Parliament, hope that the government will take a “positive step” towards the use of cryptocurrency.

“The Bill’s previous draft was harsh about cryptocurrencies. It is certain that it will only improve. It looks like the government is doing research on technology, regulation, and it seems like it is moving in a positive direction,” Sathvik Vishwanath (CEO and Co-founder of Unocoin), said.

Sharan Nair (City Business Officer at CoinSwitch Kuber) said that this was a good sign. They would have done the same thing if they had intended to ban it. This is a sign that they are giving it more thought and focusing on the nuances.