Why Should India Buy Bitcoin and Not Ban it?

Bitcoin (BTC) has seen a 900% growth in the last 12 months. The BTC price against the US Dollar was hovering around US$6,412.5 in March 2020. On March 13, 2021, the BTC/USD pair touched an all-time high (ATH) of US$61,195.3. Analysts and crypto experts believe that the main reason for this 10-times increase in Bitcoin price in the last 1-year is because of robust buying by the institutional investors.

Photo by Ewan Kennedy on Unsplash

Institutional investors have started parking their capital in Bitcoin and are buying heavily at every low. Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe and many other experts believe that big investors such as Tesla, Paypal, Square, Grayscale, MicroStrategy, and many others are buying at lower levels as the small crypto “traders, shitcoiners, and weak hands” sell-off.

In fact, life insurance and pension funds have started taking interest in Bitcoin. JPMorgan’s strategists said:

“MassMutual’s bitcoin purchases represent another milestone in the bitcoin adoption by institutional investors….One can see the potential demand that could arise over the coming years as other insurance companies and pension funds follow MassMutual’s example”.

JPMorgan a vendu le négoce de matières premières à Mercuria - Capital.fr

In the report, JPMorgan’s strategists have said:

“If pension funds and insurance companies in the U.S., euro area, U.K. and Japan allocate 1% of assets to Bitcoin, that would result in additional Bitcoin demand of $600 billion, the strategists said.

Gemini exchange’s co-founder Tyler Winklevoss has reportedly said:

“There is huge institutional demand and most of it is silent.”

JPMorgan strategists believe that Bitcoin price will reach US$146,000 in future years. Therefore, there are high chances that it can evolve as a compelling alternative to gold. Most of Wall Street believes that the BTC price will reach around US$100,000 to US$400,000 by 2021-end or mid-2022.

With such a bright prospect of Bitcoin and the global cryptocurrency market, the Indian government is planning to propose a new law in 2021 that will not only ban cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin but also fine anyone trading or holding such cryptos. The crypto investors in India remain frightened in such an uncertain regulatory environment. Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has recently said during a conclave (organized by a news channel) that India will not shut off all options when it comes to cryptocurrency or blockchain and fintech.

However, anonymous sources keep pointing out daily that the blanket ban on crypto is on the cards for the Indian government. But the question arises, will the Indian government take the unprecedented step of banning cryptos at a time when Prime Minister Modi is trying to remedy the Indian economy’s global image in business affairs?

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I personally feel that India must not ban Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies. Instead, it must champion decentralized cryptocurrencies to:

  1. Safeguard national security
  2. Accelerate technological development 
  3. Accelerate cross-border fund transfer
  4. Attract international capital
  5. Prevent deplatforming
  6. Deter financial fraud 

By championing the decentralized cause, India would consequently create the pathway towards its goal of becoming a global powerhouse of business and finance. India should strive to become a superpower by launching a digital rupee, which is backed by digital gold. 

Should Prime Minister Narendra Modi let go of this chance to regain its rightful supremacy in the world arena or grab the crypto route to consolidate its position? This is a matter of decision-making by the Indian government. On my part, I want to point out the reasons why India should embrace BTC, ETH, and other cryptos instead of banning them. 

  1. Global Cryptocurrency is a Trillion Dollar Industry

At the time of writing this article, the total global market capitalization was US$1.8-trillion, where the market cap of Bitcoin was US$1.07-trillion. This means Bitcoin is more variable than any other technology behemoths founded in the last 10-years including the combination of Slack, Uber, Stripe, and Airbnb.

In fact, the great technological innovation of the largest cryptocurrency (in terms of market cap) led to the creation of other technologies (such as Ethereum and Zcash) and valuable companies (such as Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken). 

Moreover, the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks have been used for sending over 1-trillion in terms of volume in 2020 alone. This is much more than PayPal. In fact, billions of US Dollars were transacted every 24-hours in terms of volume as stablecoins (built on Ethereum) were used for transferring stable US Dollar equivalents.

Selon Barry Silbert, l'interdiction des Bitcoins en Inde aura un effet  opposé | BlockBlog
  1. Cited by Professors from Premier Institutions and Invested by Leading Venture Funds around the Globe

There are at least 13,000 times, Bitcoin (mentioned in the research papers) has been cited by professors of leading institutions such as Stanford, MIT, and Harvard. 

The top tech investors such as Fred Wilson's Union Square Ventures, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, and Marc Andreessen's Andreessen Horowitz have invested venture capital amounting to over US$5-billion. 

Many renowned personalities have said many encouraging things about Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency industry:

  • Elon Musk: The man shuttling between the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the world’s richest list has said that Bitcoin (BTC) is inevitable. He has also changed his Twitter bio to include “#Bitcoin” in February 2021.  
  • IMF: The International Monetary Fund has said that cryptos can bring a paradigm shift in the way in which people “sell, buy, save, invest, and pay” their bills. The organization went on to say that cryptocurrencies can bring in the “next step in the evolution of money.”
  • The World Bank: It believes both the blockchain protocols and cryptos are part of a slew of new technologies that are bringing the coveted change in which the “production and commerce are organized”. 
  • Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers: He believes that Bitcoin (BTC) is here to stay and the technology on which Bitcoin is based will be adopted by the financial industry. 
  1. Crypto Adoption will Protect India’s National Security, especially against Deplatforming

A bill introduced in the Indian Parliament recently has proposed to introduce digital Rupee but ban all private cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and others. The justification given for banning cryptos is to protect the national security of India. However, the fact remains that Bitcoin and other decentralized cryptocurrencies will protect India's national security, especially against de-platforming. 

Deplatforming, also called no-platforming, is an "attempt to boycott a group or individual through removing the platforms (such as speaking venues or websites) used to share information or ideas” or "the action or practice of preventing someone holding views regarded as unacceptable or offensive from contributing to a forum or debate, especially by blocking them on a particular website.”

The recently proposed bill in the parliament proposes to introduce a digital Indian currency (Rupee), which will be controlled by the apex bank of India, RBI (Reserve Bank of India). However, Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralized international cryptos that are neither issued nor regulated by any single entity. RBI would be able to freeze accounts, issue wallets, and reverse transactions. However, in the case of Bitcoin and other cryptos, they are more like digital gold. A specific country can’t seize or freeze it. 

That’s the basic property of Bitcoin that has the potential of safeguarding the national security of India. Bitcoin networks can’t be shut down by any specific country, especially at the time of conflict. Therefore, both Indians and their diaspora can rely on BTC for transactions all the time, no matter whether it is the time of conflict or peace. 

India must prepare itself to deal with extreme situations of crisis such as that of the 2008 US financial crisis or the recent 2020 COVID-19 crash. That’s why India must prioritize support for digital gold as a financial rail of last resort to come out of the situation. To protect its interests, Germany has recently repatriated 3,378 tonnes of gold from the US.

A handful of American technology companies have de-platformed a sitting US President in the recent past. France, Germany, and Mexico have expressed concern over such blatant de-platforming of the most powerful person in the US and also of the world. 

This is where the Ethereum network can be used for creating social networks as well as messaging apps so that they can’t be shut down by any US corporation of their own will. India must take a cue from the recent international events and prioritize national support for decentralized platforms such as Ethereum. 

You may say that Indian-made microblogging sites such as Koo can be created to replace Twitter. However, most non-Indians will not use the Indian version of Twitter. India would need neutral international platforms for getting its messages sent out to the world. That’s where the effectiveness of crypto permits comes. 

Arbitrary de-platforming by the corporations of other countries poses a threat to the national sovereignty of India. With the increased adoption of decentralization and cryptocurrencies, deplatforming can be defeated. 

4. Crypto will bring in More Capital to India

The proponents of the cryptocurrency ban in India say that Bitcoins and Ethereums would lead to a capital flight. However, the truth is the complete opposite. In fact, all the leading CEOs, venture capitalists, angel investors, and founders are supporters of Bitcoin. 

Be it Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Marc Andreessen, Chamath Palihapitiya, Naval Ravikant, Reid Hoffman, or Peter Thiel, all support Bitcoin. In fact, the leading Russian and Chinese entrepreneurs such as Pavel Durov and Changpeng Zhao also agree that Bitcoin has huge potential and value. 

Polychain Capital’s Olaf Carson-Wee says that around half of the billionaires in the world would come from cryptocurrency once the Bitcoin price hits US$200,000 per BTC. Almost all the analysts and strategists of Wall Street believe that the price of each Bitcoin will be anywhere from US$100,000 to US$400,000 either by the end of 2021 or mid-2022. 

With such high prospects in the near future, banning Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will repel trillion dollars that would have come in the form of crypto capital. It is the crypto ban that will cause a flight of capital out of India. 

In fact, the ban will also make many Indian capitalists related to crypto exchanges, cryptocurrency mining companies, and new digital currencies move abroad. India must try to take a cue from the far-sighted technology policies of Singapore and Switzerland. 

The right cryptocurrency policy and regulation will make India a technology capital and financial center. A highly favorable stance on cryptocurrency will make the top entrepreneurs and investors of the world move to India. They will make billions of dollars in cryptocurrency to land in India.

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5. Cryptocurrency will bring Boom to the Remote Economy and Expedite Easy, Fast, and Cost-Effective Remittance Transfers

India is one of the top recipients of remittances. It receives around US$80-billion per annum in remittances. In fact, the business outsourcing business brings in more than US$150 billion every year. 

In the last couple of years, the online reach of Indians has increased significantly, thanks mainly to Reliance Jio. Currently, over 400 million people in India have access to the internet. COVID-19 crisis has led to remote working and it is the expanded reach of the internet that has enabled these remote workers to work efficiently from their homes. 

With an absolute boom in remote working and remittance transfers in India, cryptocurrencies will work as an effective, faster, and more cost-effective medium in large flows of money from abroad. 

Indians are talented. A move in support of cryptocurrencies will give international players a positive signal, make international headlines, and attract global support from the technologists and financiers of the world. This will help to put India at a different league than that of the US and China, which are increasingly pursuing zero-sum economic policies. In this way, India will be able to move to the forefront of a trillion-dollar industry. To move into the next level of development, India should buy Bitcoin and not ban it.

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