Apple blocks crypto exchange apps in India following government order

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Apple has removed several cryptocurrency exchange apps, including Binance, Kucoin, and OKX, from its App Store in India, following a show-cause notice issued by the Indian government to nine offshore virtual digital asset (VDA) service providers for violating the country’s anti-money laundering laws.

According to the notice, sent by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) on December 28, 2023, the VDAs were operating illegally in India by not registering with the Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND) and complying with the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The notice also directed the information technology ministry to block the URLs of these exchanges.

Apple complied with the order and removed the apps from its Indian App Store, making them inaccessible to new users. However, the apps are still available on Google’s Play Store, which is likely to follow suit soon.

The move comes amid the Indian government’s plan to introduce a bill in the upcoming budget session of the parliament that would ban all private cryptocurrencies in the country and create a framework for an official digital currency issued by the Reserve Bank of India.

The crypto industry in India has been facing regulatory uncertainty and challenges for a long time, with frequent changes in policies and court cases. In 2018, the RBI had banned banks from dealing with crypto-related businesses, effectively choking the sector. However, in 2020, the Supreme Court of India quashed the ban, giving a boost to the crypto ecosystem. Since then, the crypto market in India has grown significantly, with millions of users and hundreds of startups.

The crypto exchanges affected by the latest order have expressed their disappointment and concern over the government’s action, and have urged the authorities to engage in a dialogue with the industry stakeholders and adopt a progressive and innovation-friendly approach towards regulating the emerging technology.

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