Bitcoin enthusiasts from Bangalore and other places including Mumbai attended the Global Conference at Sheraton, Bangalore on 15th December 2013. The conference was well attended by different sections of the society including curious observers from the Banking community, entrepreneurs who have already set up various business projects in Bitcoin related services and also some traders and investors.
Experts in the field explained the concept of Bitcoin and how it is likely to be a useful digital payment system. The conference discussed the perception of Bitcoin as a “Digital Currency” and its benefits. Discussions were also held on the regulatory concerns and what the future holds for Bitcoin and other crypto coins.
The conference was well attended and the high level of enthusiasm of technologists was perceptible.
Naavi speaking on “Bitcoin and Cyber Laws” highlighted the need for the development of Cyber Law Compliant Eco sytem for Bitcoins and suggested an action agenda for the Bitcoin community of India. He pointed out that Bitcoin is an “Undigitally signed Electronic Document” under ITA 2008 and the various service providers are “Intermediaries” with certain legal obligations. He also pointed out that Bitcoin is not a “Bank Note” since it does not contain a “Promise to Pay”. “It is the perception that Bitcoin is a Currency and can be used for money laundering that creates a regulatory concern and if the community does not take steps to prevent criminal grade anonymity overtaking the Bitcoin transactions, regulatory backlash is possible”.. he said. He urged the community to take steps to open a dialogue with the RBI and clarify the nature of Bitcoin as well as the measures that the community is willing to take in addressing the regulatory concerns. He also pointed out the system of “Regulated Anonymity” could be considered as a solution to meet the divergent needs of the regulators and Bit coin enthusiasts.
Naavi also recalled that in the past “Napster” was killed by regulatory concerns and it would not be difficult for RBI to take steps that would kill Bitcoins too. He also pointed out however that RBI may consider accepting or adopting the system with suitable regulatory measures including a general advisory to warn the investors about the risks of speculation and the foreign exchange regulations that may affect the miners and traders. If “Spectrum” can be accepted as an “Asset”, “Crypto Coins” can also be accepted as a “Virtual Asset” he opined and urged that RBI may consider steps to enhance the “Bitcoin wealth” in India by encouraging more local mining. “India lost an opportunity when IPv4 addresses were distributed by not realizing the benefits of Internet and demanding a fair share of the addresses when Internet first came into being. We should not make the same mistake now and miss the opportunities of creation the cryptocoin wealth” he opined.
Now that the conference is behind us, we need to keep watching how regulators move from here on.
P.S: For those who donot know, Naavi had proposed a “Digital Value Imprinted Instrument System” (DVIIS) way back in 2003 and had even applied for a Patent in this regard though it was abandoned later. Compared to this Brick and Click system, Bitcoin has now emerged as a pure virtual currency. DVIIS was more a digital wallet system for the fiat currency while Bitcoin is an innovative form of peer to peer digital currency which may in future adopt a brick and click support system similar to the DVIIS system.