From the Viewsroom

India’s cryptophobia

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on July 23, 2019 Published on July 23, 2019

The government’s fear over cryptocurrencies is baseless

New technologies scare us. Rightly so. History has many examples. In 1903, a Norwegian-American scientist used the term ‘Radiophobia’ in his paper Radio-phobia and radio-mania to describe people’s fear of radiation. In the 1920s, the term included those who were scared of radio broadcasting — yes, there were many. It took years of efforts by radiologists, broadcasters and investors, for the public and policy to come to terms with the use and benefits of radio waves. In fact, policy took longer than the public to understand the benefits of the technology. Restrictions, licences and all kinds of riders existed over the years that made life difficult for entrepreneurs and technologists. There are many such examples, from the railways to the internet. At the outset they incite fear, confusion and chaos But history tells us patience pays.

India’s cryptophobia is one such baffling instance where policy gets paranoid about an emerging technology. The latest example of this is the just-out inter-ministerial panel report on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. After a year’s delay, the panel finalised its findings this week, calling for a ban of cryptocurrencies. No doubt, cryptocurrencies are an unfinished business. Their operations lack transparency, are anarchic in nature and function, and their apostles exude a marked disregard towards centralisation and authority. That said, cryptocurrency is inarguably one of the most important innovations of this century. It has introduced the public ledger technology of blockchain which is transforming businesses across the world today. As Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM, recently put it, blockchain can vastly improve efficiency of anything that can conceive of as a supply chain, be it people, numbers, data or money. Which is why cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin counts the likes of Bill Gates or Ben Bernanke among its supporters. Interestingly, the ministry panel also praises the potential of blockchain in areas such as land management, but fails to understand the creative disruption cryptocurrencies have introduced to the world of finance. The panel’s conclusion that financial institutions can utilise digital ledgers, but individuals should be barred from trading or holding them is hokum. That is micromanagement of the worst kind and reeks of nanny-state mentality. Time and again, advocates of cryptos have exposed the hypocrisy behind arguments that cryptocurrencies are used in money laundering or terrorism. In fact, most such deeds still occur in fiat currencies. Banning cryptos is not the way to regulate their misuse. Mainstreaming them is our best shot. If we lose the opportunity to let the public creatively exploit the potential of the crypto market, history will mock us.

Published on July 23, 2019

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.