Global regulators continue to take a heavy hand in the policing of Bitcoin exchanges, with India being the latest country to see account suspensions. The development could have major ramifications in India, which is responsible for over 10 percent of Bitcoin transactions globally.
A number of top lenders in India have moved to suspend the accounts on several major domestic Bitcoin exchanges. This comes on the heels of suspected abuse and suspicious transactions. This would not be the first occurrence of regulators and state authorities taking a cautious approach, as Bitcoin exchanges have proven to be quite vulnerable to abuse.
The move follows last year’s shutdown of Bitcoin exchanges in China. The crackdown helped sink the price of Bitcoin, temporarily spooking investors in the largest market for cryptos globally. Since then, China has taken even more aggressive steps, targeting the funding of these entities while giving banks until this past weekend to separate themselves from Bitcoin mining and exchange operations.
In India, leading lenders such as State Bank of India, Axis BankBSE, HDFC BankBSE, ICICI Bank, and Yes Bank have collectively suspended select accounts across multiple Bitcoin exchanges. In a possible sign of things to come, banks have also requested additional collateral, while also capping cash withdrawals from the few accounts that are still operational, per a report in India’s Economic Times.
Of note, many exchanges have been operating at a margin of close to 20 percent, with profit being generated mainly via the premium charged by the exchanges. This has proven to be highly lucrative, with the difference between buying and selling rates at about 25 percent, according to the report.
However, the aforementioned accounts were frozen abruptly, following an investigation and the discovery that they were used for reasons other than those stated at the time of opening. The event served as a red flag for banks, prompting immediate action. Consequently, at least eight accounts have been temporarily suspended, while many others are currently being investigated.
With cash withdrawal limits imposed, the situation has the potential to get worse, as there are more accounts slated for suspension in the coming weeks. FortuneZ will update the story as it develops. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading in negative territory at $11,330, down 6.44 percent today.