Is Cryptocurrency Legal in India? A Comprehensive Overview in 2023

LegalKart Editor
LegalKart Editor 05 min read 691 Views
Last Updated: Feb 05, 2024
Is Cryptocurrency Allowed in India? Understanding the Digital Currency Landscape

Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, have seen a lot of changes in rules and how people view them all over the world. India is one of the countries trying to figure out what to do about these digital currencies. Since India has a lot of people, and many of them are getting more into technology, what India decides about cryptocurrency is a big deal. So, the big question is: Is it okay to use cryptocurrencies in India? Let's explore this more


A Glimpse of the Past of Cryptocurrency

Historically, India's approach to cryptocurrency has been one of caution. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the nation's central banking institution, had expressed reservations about the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies. Citing concerns related to consumer protection, market integrity, and money laundering, the RBI, in April 2018, prohibited banks and financial institutions from providing services related to cryptocurrencies.

This move led to a significant decline in cryptocurrency-related activities in India. However, it was met with challenges. Many crypto enthusiasts and businesses approached the judiciary, questioning the central bank's decision.


The Turnaround

In March 2020, the Supreme Court of India lifted the ban imposed by the RBI, citing the proportionality of the restrictions. The decision was seen as a victory for the Indian crypto community. Post this judgment, cryptocurrency trading platforms witnessed a surge in user registration and trading volumes.

It's also noteworthy that India has been gradually introducing measures to regulate cryptocurrency revenues. In April 2022, a 30% income tax was levied on profits derived from cryptocurrencies. This was followed by the implementation of a 1% tax deducted at source on cryptocurrency transactions in July 2022.

On the March 7, 2023, the Central Government issued a notification, effectively placing digital assets, including cryptocurrencies, under the purview of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). This move signaled India's intent to tighten its grip on the regulation of digital currencies. The Finance Ministry further elucidated that any exchange involving digital assets and fiat currencies, or between different forms of digital assets, would now be subject to the stipulations of the PMLA.


Understanding Cryptocurrency's Legal Status in India

Legal tender is like official money that the government accepts. If you have legal tender, you can use it to pay for things and also pay off any debts. In many countries, the money you use daily, like rupees or dollars, is legal tender because it's backed by the government.

Now, let's talk about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in India. Even though many people in India buy, sell, and use cryptocurrencies for different things, these digital currencies aren't considered legal tender. This means you can't use them everywhere like you'd use rupees, especially when it comes to official matters or paying off debts.However, just because it's not "official money" doesn't mean the government ignores it. They know that these digital currencies are becoming more popular both in India and around the world. So, they've decided to put a tax on it. In 2022, the government said they would charge a 30% tax on money people make from cryptocurrencies.

But even with this tax, there aren't clear rules about how cryptocurrencies should work in India. Everyone who uses them is waiting for the government to give more clear guidelines about how to buy, sell, and use these digital coins safely and legally.


Regulatory Framework for Cryptocurrency

Although the Supreme Court lifted the RBI's ban, it emphasized the need for robust regulations. Recognizing the potential risks and benefits, the Indian government has been considering introducing a comprehensive legal framework for cryptocurrencies. Several proposals and bills have been discussed, aiming to regulate the crypto industry without disrupting innovation. The intent is to ensure that India does not miss out on the opportunities presented by blockchain technology and digital currencies while safeguarding against potential risks.


Challenges in Regulation

Formulating a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies is no easy task. The decentralized, borderless nature of these digital assets poses challenges in jurisdiction, monitoring, and enforcement. Additionally, striking a balance between fostering innovation and ensuring security, transparency, and consumer protection is tricky.


The Way Forward for Cryptocureency in India

India's approach towards cryptocurrency regulation seems to be one of 'cautious optimism.' The government is keen on understanding the technological underpinnings, potential applications, and global best practices before formulating any policies.



Cryptocurrency in India stands at a pivotal juncture. While it's not illegal, its future is heavily dependent on the regulatory framework that the government is likely to introduce. As global trends indicate a gradual shift towards accepting and adopting cryptocurrencies, it remains to be seen how India, with its vast potential as a market, navigates this intricate domain. For now, enthusiasts, investors, and businesses tread with both excitement and caution, awaiting clearer directives.

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