Facebook Will Not Launch Calibra in India Due to the Country’s Anti-Crypto Stance
India, the country with the second heftiest population in the world, would ideally represent a fantastic market for Facebook and the Libra Association to offer the Calibra wallet, and therefore, the Libra cryptocurrency, which was unveiled last month by the prominent social network.
However, Facebook decided that it will not launch its digital wallet in one of the biggest markets (an argument can be made that it is, in fact, the largest, with a total population of 1,366,417,754 as of this year,) just a few days after the government expressed discomfort about the social app’s plans.
“No Plans to Offer Libra”
A Facebook representative that did not provide its name expressed to the Economic Times that the company had “no plans to offer” Libra or Calibra, the digital wallet that will hold the cryptocurrency, in Indian soil, much to the disappointment of an ever-growing community of interested investors.
According to the cited spokesperson, India’s harsh attitude towards crypto assets at the moment of making the laws is the main driver in Facebook’s plans to avoid the country altogether, despite it being such a promising location.
India has made no secret of its anti-crypto stance: the country currently has local restrictions that make it impossible for a project like Calibra to succeed, and it is clearly uncomfortable with all private crypto assets, not just Facebook’s project.
The development comes as no surprise, as earlier this week, it was reported on a prominent crypto news site that India’s Economics Affairs Secretary Subhash Garg said that the government was not likely to give Libra the green light to function in the nation, noting that it would be treated as any other private cryptocurrency, with no special concessions.
A History of Crypto Loathing
Investors and the crypto community in general may be very interested in these assets, but the government has a totally different say in the matter, and it is not new. Ever from the very beginning of 2018, officials in the nation have taken decisions that have affected the industry, like ordering institutions under the watch of the Reserve Bank of India not to offer their services to crypto-related businesses.
Naturally, such a decision will negatively impact the field, directly and indirectly: crypto-related enterprises and firms have had to put a halt on their operations, scale them back, or relocate, because people have lost interest due to the fear of the possible repercussions that their actions can result in.
For instance, we have the case of Koinex, which is a crypto exchange. In June, it had to close shop before turning two years old as a project. Zebpay, another trading platform, closed its operations in the country last September.
Zebpay has since relocated and has managed to survive, but it is not yet clear what is next for Koinex. Of course, there is also the proposed legal document called “Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019”, which has the goal of criminalizing cryptocurrency mining, buying, holding or selling.
People that incur in those acts could be facing prison time, for a maximum of ten years. Of course, the law is not official as of now, but the impact of the possibility of it coming to fruition has already been felt. Rahul Raj, the CEO of Koinex, expressed that “a proposed piece of legislation called the ‘Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019’ has created enough FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in the Indian crypto trading community to result into a sharp decline in trading volumes and instil a clear discomfort for all the law-abiding citizens of this great nation.”
By Andres Chavez