Securities and Exchange Board of India: Officials sent overseas to study cryptocurrency

Recently, the Securities and Exchange Board of India [SEBI] released its Annual report for the year 2017-2018. SEBI began as a non-statutory body in the year 1988. Currently, it is the most important statutory regulatory body in the country. SEBI received its statutory powers on January 30, 1992, after the Parliament of India passed the SEBI Act.

Just a few days prior to releasing the annual report, SEBI issued a press release which unveiled that the regulatory body has formed a committee to explore the opportunities provided by Fintech. The team will be guided forward in the Chairmanship of Shri T.V. Mohandas Pai, SEBI added.

The Committee also stated that it would examine, deliberate and advise SEBI on a regular based on several points. SEBI said in its release:

“[The committee will assess]Assessing technological solutions for regulatory functions of SEBI viz. information management and data mining, risk management including cyber security, intermediary supervision, consumer protection, etc. through application of new technological solutions like application of distributed ledger technology, big data, data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine Learning etc.”

Further, in its recently published annual report, SEBI revealed that a team of Indian officials from SEBI was sent on a study tour to overseas authorities. The report also explains the need for such tours, stating:

“SEBI on a regular basis enables study tour of SEBI officials to overseas authorities. These study tours help engage with the international regulators and gain deeper understanding of the systems and mechanisms. SEBI in the past has benefitted a lot from these experiences and the knowledge transfer helps improve the processes within SEBI.”

In one of their recent study tours, the authorities went overseas to understand the concept of Initial Coin Offerings [ICOs] and cryptocurrencies. The officials targetted authorities of three countries namely Financial Services Agency [FS] in Japan, Financial Conduct Authority [FCA] in the UK and Financial Market Supervisory Authority [FINMA] of Switzerland.

While the government officials are sent overseas to study cryptocurrencies, the Indian cryptocurrency market continues its battle with the government on the regulation of digital assets.

The country’s Central Bank, Reserve Bank of India [RBI] has confirmed that it will be watching the movement of cryptocurrencies very closely. Earlier this year, RBI petitioned a ban against these digital assets, completely disabling the conversion of cryptocurrencies to Indian Rupees [INR].

On 20th July, RBI held a hearing to consider the lifting of the ban. However, nothing concrete came out of the hearing. According to reports, the hearing has been moved to 11th September. Reports also revealed that SEBI will be a part of the September hearing.

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