Bitcoin is the most famous cryptocurrency, rising 19-folds in value, it has attracted many retail investors from around the world. However, cryptocurrencies are yet not a legal tender in India and Bitcoin is disapproved as a legal currency.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley highlighted in a statement that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and have no regulatory permission or protection in the country. However, there was no announcement banning or imposing any curbs on the same.
The government panel is also awaiting a report on tackling cryptocurrencies in India, Jaitley said.
The government has recently cautioned investors to be wary of virtual currencies like bitcoin, saying they are like Ponzi schemes with no legal tender and protection.
No mechanism to prevent misuse
There is no mechanism to prevent the misuse of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin by terror groups and other anti-national elements.
“One of the features of cryptocurrency is that there is lack of dependence on the state. It functions with a degree of anonymity. It operates within a virtual community which is created and enjoys the trust of that virtual community,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha.
“The government is examining the matter. A Committee under the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Department Secretary is deliberating over all issues related to cryptocurrencies to propose specific actions to be taken… Instead of taking any knee-jerk action, let’s wait for the report of this committee.” Jaitley added
Some basics on Bitcoin
Bitcoin is the first ever cryptocurrency that existed, it was invented in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto.
Cryptocurrencies are nothing but computer codes that have monetary value. No Government has any control over them.
Bitcoins ‘self-contain’ their value i.e. there’s no need for any bank to move or store the money.
Bitcoin currency is completely unregulated and decentralized.
Bitcoins are mined, and they can be mined by anyone in the general public who has a strong computer. However, only 21 billion of bitcoins in total can be mined. Currently, there are around 11 million in circulation.
Bitcoin has no underlying physical monetary base to support its value, and it is totally subject to its demand in the market.
After researching digital currencies for work last year, personal finance writer J.R.
Duren hopped on his own crypto-rollercoaster.
Duren bought $5 worth of litecoin in November, and eventually purchased $400 more, mostly with his credit card. In just a few months, he experienced a rally, a crash, and a recovery, with the adrenaline highs and lows that come along.
“At first, I was freaking out,” Duren said about watching his portfolio plunge 40 percent at one point. “The precipitous drop came as a shock.”
The 39-year-old Floridian is part of the new class of crypto-investors who do not necessarily think bitcoin will replace the U.S. dollar, or that blockchain will revolutionize modern finance or that dentists should have their own currency.
“There has been a big shift in the type of investors we have seen in crypto over the past year,” said Angela Walch, a fellow at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. “It’s shifted from a small group of techies to average Joes. I overhear conversations about cryptocurrencies everywhere, in coffee shops and airports.”
Walch and other experts cited parallels to the late-1990s, when retail investors jumped into stocks like Pets.com, a short-lived online seller of pet supplies, only to watch their wealth evaporate when the dot-com bubble burst.
Bitcoin is the best-known virtual currency but there are now more than 1,500 to choose from, according to market data website CoinMarketCap, ranging from popular coins like ether and ripple to obscure coins like dentacoin, the one intended for dentists.
Exactly how many “noobs” bought into the craze last year is unclear because each transaction is pseudonymous, meaning it is linked to a unique digital address, and few exchanges collect or share detailed information about their users.
A variety of consumer-friendly websites have made investing much easier, and online forums are now filled with posts from ordinary retail investors who were rarely spotted on the cryptocurrency pages of social news hub Reddit before.
One bitcoin was worth almost $20,000 in December, up around 1,900 percent from the start of 2017. As of Friday afternoon, it was worth about $10,000 after having fallen as much as 70 percent from its peak. Other coins made even bigger gains and experienced equally dizzying drops over that time frame.
“There was that two-month period last year where all the virtual currencies kept going and up and I had a couple of friends that had invested and they had made five-figure returns,” said Michael Brown, a research analyst in New Jersey, who said he bought around $1,000 worth of ether in December.
“I got swept by the media frenzy,” he said. “You never hear stories of people losing money.”
In the weeks after Brown invested, his holdings soared as much as 75 percent and tumbled as much as 59 percent.
Buy and ‘Hodl’
Investors who got into bitcoin before its 2013 crash like to refer to themselves as “OGs,” short for “original gangsters.”
They tend to shrug off the recent downturn, arguing that cryptocurrencies will be worth much more in the future.
“As crashes go, this is one of the biggest,” said Xavier Levenfiche, who first invested in cryptocurrencies in 2011.
“But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a hiccup on the road to greatness.”
Spooked by the sudden fall but not willing to book a loss, many investors are embracing a mantra known as “HODL.” The term stems from a misspelled post on an online forum during the cryptocurrency crash in 2013, when a user wrote he was “hodling” his bitcoin, instead of “holding.”
Mike Gnitecki, for instance, bought one bitcoin at around $18,000 in December and was sitting on a 43 percent decline as of Friday, waiting for a recovery.
“I view it as having been a fun side investment similar to a gamble,” said Gnitecki, a paramedic from Texas. “Clearly I lost some money on this particular gamble.”