Based on suspicion of dubious transaction, some of the accounts of major bitcoin exchanges in India were suspended by a number of major banks in India which included the State Bank of India, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank, according to media reports quoting sources reportedly with knowledge of the matter.
The few accounts that are still operational have been slapped with a withdrawal cap by the banks and the lenders have also asked the promoters of the suspended bitcoin exchanges to supply more collateral security against the loans that have already been given to them.
“Since last month, banks have been asking for additional collateral with 1:1ratio,” reported the media quoting a source with knowledge of the matter.
Another source reportedly said that scrutiny of the current accounts in the name of top bitcoin exchanges is being conducted by the lenders. Sources had reportedly confirmed that the banks have initiated action against the most popular 10 bitcoin exchanges which include names such asZebpay, Unocoin, CoinSecure and BtcxIndia.
“The banks have not contacted the company or the promoters regarding the actions you have mentioned,” said Sathvik Vishwanath, promoter of Unocoin.
There were no response or comments from Zebpay, Coin-Secure and BtcxIndia. There was also no response to emailed requests by none of the banks including the SBI, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank.
No intermediary is required for the procurement of products and services with the use of the virtual currency bitcoin. Bitcoin is also seen as a mode of investment by some people as the value of the virtual currency has spiked by over 1000 percent in the last 12 months or so.
Even while bitcoin is not banned in India, this cryptocurrency is hardly regulated. The tax officials who are conducting a scrutiny of the top 10 exchanges in India have said that the combined value of the revenue of the exchanges is more than $6012 million (Rs 40,000 crore).
“These exchanges tend to show the total volumes both on buy and sell side as their revenue. In many instances, the exchanges themselves buy and sell cryptocurrencies on their own platform,” an indirect tax official who is part of a team investigating the applicability of sales tax on Bitcoin exchanges reportedly to told the media o condition of anonymity.
Sources also said that a number of the bitcoin exchanges under the scanner operate with a margin of 20%. The exchanges make profit from the difference in premium prices and sell price of bitcoins when such exchanges themselves trade the virtual currency.
Sources said that it was recently that the banks found out that the bank accounts of the alleged exchanges were being put to use for actions that were not within the parameters of what had bene stated by the account holders and this resulted in such identified accounts being frozen some time back by the banks.
“Reserve Bank of India has not issued any directive to us – it’s a cautionary move on our part,” a banker involved in the matter told the media. “We are wary about the purpose for which some of these current accounts are being used.”
(Adapted from Economictimes.Indiatimes.com)