India's crypto lobby group has been abruptly shut down, a member confirms

Quick Take

  • India’s Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council has been abruptly shut down by its parent organization.
  • The decision won’t impact the crypto industry significantly, said one exchange executive.

India's crypto industry lobby group, the Blockchain and Crypto Assets Council (BACC), has abruptly announced it's shutting up shop after five years representing the sector's interests. 

In a meeting earlier today, the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) — BACC's parent organization — said it's dissolving BACC to focus on non-crypto sectors, Sathvik Vishwanath, co-founder and CEO of Indian crypto exchange Unocoin, a BACC member, told The Block.

The decision comes as the global crypto market witnesses a significant downturn, with bitcoin's price dropping below $20,000 from a peak of more than $60,000 in November. In addition, India's crypto industry has witnessed several headwinds in recent months, including new taxes and crashing trading volumes.

Vishwanath said IAMAI called the meeting for BACC members to inform them of its decision and not discuss it. "It was not like a meeting for discussion. They had made up their mind already," he said. "So it was only the one-way communication."

BACC was formed with the vision of doing public advocacy for the crypto industry and also had a self-regulatory function. All major Indian crypto exchanges are members, including unicorns CoinDCX and CoinSwitch. Some international companies — such as Binance and Chainalysis — are also involved, according to the IAMAI website. In October, BACC appointed Ashish Singhal, founder and CEO of CoinSwitch, and Sumit Gupta, co-founder and CEO of CoinDCX, as its co-chairs.

CoinSwitch, CoinDCX and the IAMAI did not respond to The Block's requests for comment by press time.

'A good thing'

The impact of BACC's dissolution on India's crypto sector isn't immediately clear. But one crypto exchange executive, who declined to be named,  described it as "a good thing" for the industry as the exchanges already led all major initiatives, raised funds and reached out to policymakers.

Exchanges can now themselves come together and make an association, said the source. Vishwanath said the industry is indeed planning to create its own body.

In 2018, the IAMAI represented the Indian crypto industry against the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) after the central bank barred regulated financial institutions from dealing with crypto firms. Then in 2020, the IAMAI won the battle as India's Supreme Court struck down RBI's banking ban against crypto.

When asked who will represent such legal cases in the future, the source said crypto exchanges now have money and policy chiefs to take care of such issues. Indeed, the two largest crypto exchanges in India, CoinDCX and CoinSwitch, have raised millions of dollars in funding recently and appointed policy and compliance heads. 

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