Amid ban rumors, billionaire Nandan Nilekani says crypto can help Indians

Indian entrepreneur and government adviser Nandan Nilekani has come out in favour of cryptocurrencies, at a time when the government is reportedly considering a ban on private digital assets.

Nilekani attended a club meeting with angel investor Balaji Srinivasan to discuss the state of crypto in India, local business news service Moneycontrol reported Monday. Mr. Nilekani is a co-founder of Infosys, a leading Indian technology company, and the founder of Aadhaar, a national biometric identification system. He is also the Chairman of India’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Digital Payments in India and an advisor to a number of government agencies and the Reserve Bank of India.

During the session, Nilekani advocated for the freedom of use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) in the country and argued that Indians should be allowed to use crypto as an asset class. The billionaire has reportedly pointed to the use of cryptocurrencies as a store of value and described its promising potential:

We need to look at crypto as an asset class and allow people to own crypto. Cryptocurrencies as a means of transaction won’t work as fast as UPI, which is aiming for a billion transactions a day. But there is a huge amount of capital in crypto.

Nilekani said Indian regulators should make it easier for micro, small and medium enterprises in the country to access capital through cryptocurrencies.

Referring to the stables and the digital rupee, he said: I’m not sure if we need a stable private currency or if a digital rupee will do. We need to see how this helps Indians, how small and medium enterprises can get capital with bitcoins. No technology can influence people’s opinions.

Nilekani’s comments come amid growing uncertainty and doubts in India about the legal status of cryptocurrencies. Since early 2021, unnamed sources claiming to represent Indian government officials have been circulating reports of an imminent ban on cryptocurrencies.

However, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has repeatedly said that the ministry is not considering banning Indians from using bitcoin.

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