Indian cryptocurrency exchanges have started reporting and blocking trading accounts, which undertake suspicious trades after government agencies raised red flags over cryptocurrencies being used for money laundering.
The self-regulation comes at a time when India is yet to come out with any regulations around cryptocurrencies or the way to tax them. Industry trackers say investigators including cybercrime officials, the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department, had raised red flags in the past few months.
Also, top crypto exchanges are getting requests from foreign investigators regarding certain suspicious accounts.
For instance, WazirX, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, recently declared the numbers in what it calls a “transparency report”.
Between April and September this year, the exchange got 377 requests from legal enforcement agencies, out of which 38 requests were from foreign law enforcement agencies. The crypto exchange locked about 1,500 accounts.
In all, the exchange locked 14,469 accounts, although most of them were after customers asked them to stop services or there were some other payment issues.
“Initiatives such as the transparency report add credibility to the ecosystem and make the crypto world look more appealing to outsiders,” Nischal Shetty, CEO and founder, WazirX. “We aim to look at the bigger goals like positive regulations and consider ourselves paving the way to it through innovative approaches.” Many regulators in India had raised red flags around certain cryptocurrency transactions.
Exchanges have said they have developed a strong internal anti-money laundering policy as well.
“In India, we are bringing our four years of robust policy with our technologies to make sure we build products and services which help in crypto adoption but at the same time minimise the risk of money laundering,” said Kumar Gaurav, founder & CEO, Cashaa.
The exchanges waking up to money laundering and other regulators also come at a time when India is planning to come out with a cryptocurrency regulation.
There has always been regulatory scepticism around cryptocurrency and whether it can be used for illegal activities from buying drugs to money laundering.
The exchanges have always claimed that if the cryptocurrency is based on a blockchain technology, all the records are permanent and, in fact, it would be easier to discover the exact nature of the transactions.
“The report and the think tank is part of our efforts to bring more clarity and build transparency for our users and policy makers in India around everything crypto,” said Aritra Sarkhel, director of public policy at WazirX. Most of the large exchanges have seen between 100% and 400% jump in their volumes and value of trade that happen on their platforms amidst the global rally and some hope on the domestic regulatory front.