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20 Jun 2017

The little eatery in Bengaluru which accepts bitcoin payments

A little known fact about a rather popular Maharashtrian cuisine eatery in Bengaluru called Suryawanshi Restaurant is that it accepts bitcoin payments.

While no one has paid in bitcoins yet, the little eatery is one of the very few businesses in India to be accepting bitcoin payments, a scarcely used method of payment in India.

However, the climate for bitcoins in India is changing.

In context

Bitcoins and India: The story so far

What is a bitcoin?

Invented by an unknown programmer(s) under the name Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a digital payments system introduced first in 2009. It's a peer-to-peer system where transactions take place without any intermediary. Transactions are recorded in an unalterable publicly distributed ledger called blockchain.

Bitcoins aren't a preferred mode of payment in India

Current situation

Bitcoins aren't a preferred mode of payment in India

Reportedly, only a few businesses in India accept bitcoin payments including Sapna Online Bookstore, TravelSmart, IndSoft, FlightShop, Dharwad International School etc.

Even with the government's push for digitizing transactions, only e-cash wallets remain the dominant mode of digital payments.

While information on number of bitcoin users in India is unclear, it does not exceed a few hundred thousand.

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Bitcoin valuation spike

Between June 2016 and June 2017, the value of bitcoins grew from approximately $700 for a bitcoin to almost $2,500 for one.

Public opinion

The public wants legalization of cryptocurrencies

A government-run poll in late May regarding the circulation of cryptocurrencies in India received over 3,000 comments.

The poll had invited comments from the public, asking whether cryptocurrencies should be legalized, banned, or simply observed in India.

A majority of the comments asked the government to push for legalization of cryptocurrencies and customer-friendly regulations.

India should embrace bitcoins

"Cryptocurrency is a form of future currency..and like other developed countries India should also welcome this positively," said one of the comments in the poll.

Government sets up an inter-disciplinary committee to explore bitcoin circulation

Government attitude

Government sets up an inter-disciplinary committee to explore bitcoin circulation

While bitcoins never took off in India as such, the regulatory climate surrounding bitcoins is changing.

Whereas in February the RBI had cautioned against the use of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, the government's attitude is changing.

In April, the Finance Ministry announced that it would bring together an inter-disciplinary committee of experts to explore the circulation of cryptocurrencies in the country.

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