RBI clarifies on cryptocurrency trading, asks banks to do customer due diligence

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In a big relief for the cryptocurrency community, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a clarification stating that banks and other regulated entities are not in a position to mention its 2018 circular on cryptocurrencies as it has been put away by the Supreme Court (SC) in March 2020 and it remains invalid now.

In a notification, RBI said, “It has come to our attention through media reports that certain banks/ regulated entities have cautioned their customers against dealing in virtual currencies by making a reference to the RBI circular DBR.No.BP.BC.104/08.13.102/2017-18 dated April 06, 2018. Such references to the above circular by banks/ regulated entities are not in order as this circular was set aside by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on March 04, 2020, in the matter of Writ Petition (Civil) No.528 of 2018 (Internet and Mobile Association of India v. Reserve Bank of India).”

The apex bank of the country further added, “Banks, as well as other entities addressed above, may, however, continue to carry out customer due to diligence processes in line with regulations governing standards for Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT) and obligations of regulated entities under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, (PMLA), 2002 in addition to ensuring compliance with relevant provisions under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for overseas remittances.”

Previously, through an email, HDFC Bank and State Bank of India had said that those who are dealing with virtual currencies will face account suspension citing a 2018 circular from the Reserve Bank of India. Notably, the circular was struck down by the Supreme Court in March 2020.

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