Virtual currencies are not legal tender says Finance Ministry

Vastavam web: The Finance Ministry today cautioned that virtual currencies are not legal tender and such currencies have no protection.Noting that there has been a phenomenal increase in recent times in the price of virtual currencies (VCs) including Bitcoin, in India and globally, it said the VCs don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money, it said.

The statement further said that users, holders and traders of VCs have already been cautioned three times, by the Reserve Bank of India about the potential financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks that they are exposing themselves to by investing in Bitcoin and/ or other VCs.”The government also makes it clear that VCs are not legal tender and such VCs do not have any regulatory permission or protection in India. The investors and other participants, therefore, deal with these VCs entirely at their risk and should best avoid participating therein,” it said.

Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes, it said, adding VCs are stored in a digital/electronic format, making them vulnerable to hacking, loss of password, malware attack etc.”VCs are not backed by government fiat. These are also not legal tender. Hence, VCs are not currencies. These are also being described as ‘Coins’,” it said.