That didn’t take too long. The keypad on India’s first crypto ATM wasn’t even broken in and the money machine has already been removed. According to a report by the Times of India, police have seized the ATM and arrested the co-founder of the Unocoin crypto exchange, which had installed the device in Bangalore.
Harish B.V., the 37-year-old co-founder of Unocoin, was taken into custody by police this past Tuesday, only four days after news broke that the ATM had been installed. The other co-founder, Sathvik Viswanath, has not suffered the same fate as his partner and no information pertaining to the arrest was available.
The ATM was seized because the country’s Central Crime Branch claimed the company did not have permission to install the machine and because it is “dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law.” Law enforcement officials also took two laptops, a cell phone, five debit and three credit cards, a passport, cash and other items.
The machine was installed, but not operational. In a tweet from October 20, Unocoin indicated, “Our Machine didn’t go well with few mainstream media reports who projected it under a negative light. The machine is still under final testing mode and it will be up and running in the upcoming week. The machine has been temporarily moved from its original place of installation.”
Our Machine didn't go well with few mainstream media reports who projected it under a negative light. The machine is still under final testing mode and it will be up and running in the upcoming week. The machine has been temporarily moved from its original place of installation.
— Unocoin (@Unocoin) October 20, 2018
There is still a lot of debate regarding cryptocurrencies in India. Some individuals—unfortunately those that are wielding the power—have tried to prevent cryptocurrency from coming to the country. The Reserve Bank of India has banned banks from working with entities in the crypto space and has continued to do its best to portray the currency in a bad light.
Crypto is not legal tender in India—the same as in most countries—but the recent actions against Unocoin should be worrisome to everyone for their dictatorial nature. The ATM was not designed to allow users to buy or sell crypto—they could only withdraw or deposit.
To that end, there is absolutely no reason law enforcement should have gotten involved. As a trading tool, cryptocurrency is not banned by any government statutes or policies. Since the ATM would not have dispensed cash, or allowed cash to be exchanged for crypto, the arrest and seizure are completely without merit.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
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The cryptocurrency industry in India is thriving despite the central bank’s rigid stance against it. On Oct. 14, the South Asian country had its first crypto ATM installed in Bengaluru’s Kemp Fort Mall. The crypto teller machine was launched by cryptocurrency exchange, Unocoin, for the exclusive use of its customers.
Unocoin has plans to launch 30 more of such ATMs across the country. Its next stop might be Mumbai and New Delhi, according to Quartz. Unodax’s customers started using the ATM on Monday, October 15th. To use the ATM, you must have a Unocoin account. The ATM, which offers fiats transactions only, allows users to deposit cash into their Unocoin account and then withdraw the funds from the account.
Complying with the countries regulations, the minimum limit on deposit or withdrawal of funds has been set at INR1,000 ($13.55) per transaction, while the maximum amount per transaction is capped at INR10,000 ($136). To use the crypto ATM, a customer will first have to validate his user ID, and then type in a one-time-password sent to his registered mobile number. If the customer wants to deposit money he can do so and the updated balance in the Unocoin account will be displayed. The process for withdrawal is similar, but if the user wishes to purchase cryptocurrencies he will have to use Unocoin’s website or mobile application.
The crypto ATMs are seen as a means of circumventing the crackdown of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) on the crypto industry. In July, the RBI ordered banks to cut off business ties with local cryptocurrency traders and exchanges. However, Unocoin claims that it has not violated any of the laws of the RBI as its ATMs have nothing to do with India’s banking system. Sathvik Vishwanath, Unocoin’s CEO explained, “The ATMs deployed by us do not need any banking partnerships. These are stand-alone machines that can accept and dispense cash.”
Since the clash between the cryptocurrency and regulators in India began, exchanges have taken quite a hit. Unocoin wasn’t spared, and according to Vishwanath, “At present, the volume (of transactions) has become one-tenth of what it used to be (before the RBI crackdown). We believe that after we have deployed it in many other cities and it becomes popular than demand should come back.”
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