India’s ICICI Bank Stops Customers From Making Overseas Crypto Investments

13 July 2021

ICICI Bank, one of the biggest private lenders in India, recently intensified its crackdown on cryptocurrency trading, asking customers not to use foreign remittances to invest in digital assets.

According to a July 9 report in The Economic Times, the bank has modified the “Retail Outward Remittance Application” form to include a declaration that “remittance is NOT for investment/purchase of bitcoin/cryptocurrencies/virtual currencies (such as ethereum, ripple, litecoin, dash, peercoin, dogecoin, primecoin, chinacoin, ven, bitcoin or any other virtual currency/cryptocurrency/bitcoin).”

Users intending to transfer money overseas under the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) liberalized remittance scheme now need to sign that declaration, which also dissuades customers from investing in “units of mutual funds/shares or any other capital instrument of a company dealing in bitcoins/cryptocurrency/virtual currencies.”

The modified form also seeks a declaration that the source of the funds to be remitted is not the redemption of crypto investments. The change comes several weeks after major Indian lenders suspended banking services to local crypto exchanges and effectively shuts out overseas markets for traders.

The RBI said on May 31 that lenders cannot cite its now-invalid crypto banking ban, imposed in April 2018, to block services to crypto exchanges and traders. Even so, several lenders have shut down net banking services to merchants involved in crypto transactions.

Amid all this, the regulatory picture remains uncertain. According to CNBC TV 18, the government is likely to present the Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 in Parliament during the Monsoon session that begins July 19.

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