With the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) now saying that it is exploring the need for a digital version of fiat currency, cryptocurrency stakeholders have called the move a step in the right direction towards strengthening the fintech ecosystem in the country.
The RBI made the remarks in a booklet titled “Payment and Settlement Systems in India” released this week.
“Private digital currencies (PDCs) / virtual currencies (VCs) / crypto currencies (CCs) have gained popularity in recent years. In India, the regulators and governments have been sceptical about these currencies and are apprehensive about the associated risks,” said the booklet.
“Nevertheless, the RBI is exploring the possibility as to whether there is a need for a digital version of fiat currency and in case there is, then how to operationalise it,” it added.
The cryptocurrency industry in India has welcomed the move.
“The fact that the RBI is mulling over introducing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the country is a step in the right direction,” Sumit Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder, CoinDCX, a cryptocurrency exchange, told IANS.
“Such moves will help India be on par with the emerging markets and be a key player in the fintech ecosystem. As we are witnessing an increase in the adoption of cryptocurrencies globally, many countries are considering issuing their own version of digital currency,” he added.
The apparent softening in RBI’s stand on cryptocurrency came after the Supreme Court last year set aside a circular issued by the RBI that barred any entity from providing banking services to anyone dealing with virtual or cryptocurrencies.
The RBI in its booklet on payment systems noted that central banks around the world are examining whether they could leverage on technology and issue fiat money in digital form.
The value of all cryptocurrencies earlier this year surpassed the $1 trillion mark and Bitcoin crossed the $40,000 mark before reaching $30,846.79 on Wednesday.
Cryptocurrency stakeholders are also expecting some clarifications in the forthcoming Union Budget.
“Just like any other financial markets that have matured in India owing to regulations, cryptocurrency investors have similar expectations from the government from this budget that will help this new financial market move towards certainty,” said Bitex Founder and CEO, Monark Modi.
“India has seen phenomenal growth in cryptocurrency trading volumes as well as the size of the community participating in this alternate investment class. But due to lack of clarity and in the absence of regulations, banks are still hesitant in providing services to the exchanges and have been blocking transactions related to cryptocurrencies, which is impacting the investors,” he added.
Petrol and diesel prices unchanged for 3rd straight day
The rise in the prices of petrol and diesel has paused for the last three days as oil marketing companies (OMCs) have decided to wait and watch the developments on global oil market before finalising their India retail strategy.
The OMCs kept the pump price of petrol and diesel unchanged on Tuesday. With this, petrol continues to be priced at Rs 91.17 a litre and diesel Rs 81.47 a litre in the national capital.
Across the country as well, petrol and diesel prices remain unchanged.
Sources in OMCs said that price pause on Tuesday followed subdued movement in product price in global markets. The crude oil, which has been on fire for the last couple of weeks, has also shown some downward movement lately, staying at less than $63 a barrel now.
Petrol and diesel prices have been rising continuously since February 9. In the 14 increases since then, prices have gone up by Rs 4.22 per litre for petrol while diesel rate has risen by Rs 4.34 a litre in Delhi.
The increase in the previous weeks has taken petrol past the historic high levels of Rs 100 a litre in several cities across the country.
In Mumbai, petrol prices is just Rs 2.4 per litre short (Rs 97.57 a litre) of touching the three-figure mark of Rs 100 per litre for the very first time ever. Diesel prices in the city are closing on Rs 90 a litre (Rs 88.60 a litre).
In all the other metros, petrol is over Rs 90 a litre-mark, while diesel is well over Rs 80 a litre. Premium petrol had crossed Rs 100 per litre mark in several cities in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra a few days back.
Since fuel prices are benchmarked to a 15-day rolling average of global refined products’ prices and dollar exchange rate, pump prices can be expected to remain northbound over the next few days even if crude price stabilises.
Petrol and diesel prices have increased 26 times in 2021 with the two auto fuels increasing by Rs 7.46 and Rs 7.60 per litre, respectively, so far this year.
Oil company executives said that petrol and diesel prices may increase further in the coming days as retail prices may have to be balanced in line with global developments to prevent the OMCs from making a loss on sale of auto fuels.
Government-NUSI ink MoUs for Rs 225 Cr benefits to seafarers
In a third major achievement in 3 months, the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) signed six memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with the Centre to extend various benefits worth Rs 225-crore to the 4,00,000 Indian seafarers across all categories, a top unionist said here on Tuesday.
The MoUs were signed between NUSI General Secretary Abdulgani Y. Serang and Director-General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar ahead of the crucial Maritime India Summit (MIS) starting Tuesday, and as part of the NUSI’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
“For the first time in Indian maritime history, the six MoUs have been signed for the welfare, training, medical, education and other requirements of the sea-farers,” Serang told IANS.
The scope of the MoUs includes: Financial assistance for Covid-19 vaccination to all seafarers, sponsorship to seafarers or their families to study at the Indian Chapter, World Maritime University in Sweden, Training and Skill Enhancement to seafarers free of cost.
Other important areas covered are: Medical and education assistance to seafarers and their families, and also educational help to kin of retired/deceased seafarers, said NUSI Spokesperson Sunil Nair.
The NUSI claimed that it was their third major milestone for the seafarers in the past three months at the height of the pandemic when the Indian and global maritime industry suffered hugely.
In December, the NUSI and FSUI clinched an agreement with Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA) for a hefty 40 per cent wage hike with retrospective effect to all seafarers.
In January, the government agreed to extend the provident fund, gratuity, and pension to all ranks of seafarers serving on both Indian or foreign flag ships, after years of struggle by NUSI.
However, with the efforts of Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the demands have been accepted which will go a long way to ensure the financial, medical and academic well-being of the seafarers and their families after they retire, the NUSI leaders said.
Shipping Corp shares up 15% as government gets multiple EoIs
Shares of Shipping Corporation of India Ltd surged over 15 per cent on Tuesday as its disinvestment process gathered momentum with the government receiving multiple Expressions of Interest (EoI) for the privatisation of the company.
Around 12 p.m., its shares on the BSE were trading at Rs 120.15, higher by Rs 16.45 or 15.86 per cent from its previous close.
Taking to Twitter, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, the Secretary for Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) on Monday said: “Multiple Expressions of Interest have been received for privatisation of Shipping Corporation of India Limited. The transaction will now move to the second stage.”
The Union government proposes to sell its entire shareholding of 63.75 per cent in the listed entity to a buyer that will take over the company with full management control.
The government expects to complete the privatisation in the coming financial year. Presenting the Union Budget for FY22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that all the announced disinvestment processes will be completed during the upcoming fiscal.
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