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

Prominent Indian entrepreneur and government advisor Nandan Nilekani has spoken in favor of cryptocurrencies as the government reportedly mulls a ban on private digital assets. 

Nilekani joined a Clubhouse session with angel investor Balaji Srinivasan to discuss the state of crypto in India, local business news publication Moneycontrol reported Monday. Nilekani is a co-founder of major Indian tech company Infosys and the founding architect of the national biometric ID system, Aadhaar. He is also the chairman of a special Indian committee assessing digital payments in India and an advisor to several government agencies and the Reserve Bank of India.

During the session, Nilekani stood up for the freedom to use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) in the country, arguing that Indians should be allowed to have crypto as an asset class. The billionaire entrepreneur reportedly noted crypto’s use as a store of value, outlining its promising potential:

“We should think of crypto as an asset class and allow people to have some crypto. Crypto as a transaction medium will not work as fast as UPI, which is targeting a billion transactions a day. But crypto has enormous capital.”

Nilekani said that Indian regulators need to help the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises access capital through crypto.

Regarding stablecoins and the digital rupee, he said, “I am not sure we need a private stable coin or if a digital rupee will be good enough. We need to look at how it will help Indians, how MSMEs can access capital using bitcoins. No amount of tech is going to sway anyone’s view.” 

Nilekani’s remarks come amid increasing uncertainty and doubt in India regarding the legal status of crypto. Anonymous sources reportedly representing Indian government officials have been disseminating reports on an upcoming crypto ban since early 2021.

However, Indian Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman has claimed multiple times that the ministry does not plan to prohibit Indians from using Bitcoin. 

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