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国际资讯监管与政策

印度五大银行联合暂停多家比特币交易所账户

国际资讯监管与政策

印度五大银行联合暂停多家比特币交易所账户

近日有消息人士指出,因怀疑可疑交易,印度国家银行、Axis银行、HDFC银行、ICICI银行和Yes银行等印度五大主要银行已经暂停了该国一些主要比特币交易所的账户。

这些银行还向这些交易所的发起人寻求额外的抵押担保,并限制从少数仍在运营的账户中提取现金。

另一位人士表示,这些银行正在审查印度主要比特币交易所持有的活期账户。印度银行已经针对前10名比特币交易所采取了行动,包括Zebpay、Unocoin、CoinSecure和BtcxIndia。

基本上不受管制

虽然印度并未明令禁止比特币,这种加密货币在印度基本处于无监管状态。

来自税务审查的数据显示,印度十大交易所的总收入可能达到4000亿卢比。

一位调查上一个财政年度比特币交易所销售税适用性的小组成员之一表示:

“这些交易所倾向于将买卖双方的总成交量作为其收入。在许多情况下,交易所通过自己的平台刷交易量。

据知情人士透露,许多交易所的经营利润率接近20%。利润来源于交易所收取的溢价、买卖价格的差额以及交易所自己参与交易获得的利润。

大多数交易所的买卖加密货币的费率不同。通常情况下,买卖利率的差额约为25%。

在银行发现这些账户被用于开立时所述的其他原因后,这些交易所在印度的账户被冻结。至少有8个银行账户已被暂停,而其他账户正在接受审查,并规定了提款限额。知情人士表示,即便是运营账户,也可能在未来几周暂停。

一位参与此事的银行家表示:“印度储备银行尚未向我们发出任何指令–这只是我们的警告”。“我们对其中一些活期账户被用于什么目的持谨慎态度。”

知情人士表示,这些比特币交易所在多家银行设有多个账户。

可疑交易报告

银行已被授权向金融情报部门提交可疑交易报告。

另一位不愿透露身份的银行家表示:“我们已要求其中一些公司解释他们所涉及的业务,以及在开户时为何没有具体说明。我们还将与有关机构合作减少一些可疑交易。

由于无法操作银行账户,许多比特币交易所面临现金流问题。一些发起人正在寻求抵押他们的个人财产。

发起人向银行大举借款,希望获得私人股本投资或其他资本注入,但这一情况尚未发生。一位评估投资交易所的投资银行家表示,尽管存在现金流问题,但大多数交易所的收入较高,利润率也不错。

据《经济时报》报道,印度的税务部门正在评估印度的比特币交易所,以确定他们的责任。至少有两家交易所已与当局联系,要求预先作出裁决,以明确商品和服务税(GST)是否适用于它们。

去年12月,所得税部门对比特币交易所进行了调查。

印度政府和印度储备银行已经发出了几次反对比特币交易的警告,前者甚至将比特币与庞氏骗局相比较。尽管包括中国在内的8个国家都禁止比特币,不过印度没有禁止比特币。

一位与其中一家交易所合作的高级高管表示,过去一个月,一些加密货币交易所的发起人试图与政府高级官员会面,但没有成功。

比特币一直波动不定——2017比特币飙升了1900%,去年12月达到20000美元的高点,自那以后,比特币暴跌了一半,上周五收于10000美元。

Top lenders including State Bank of India, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank have suspended some accounts of major Bitcoin exchanges in India, suspecting dubious transactions, three people aware of the development said.

The banks have also sought additional collateral from the promoters of these exchanges on their borrowings and have capped cash withdrawals from the few accounts that are still operational.

"Since last month, banks have been asking for additional collateral with 1:1ratio," a person with knowledge of the matter said.

The banks are scrutinising current accounts held by top Bitcoin exchanges, a second person said. Action has been initiated against the top 10 Bitcoin exchanges including Zebpay, Unocoin, CoinSecure and BtcxIndia, said four people aware of the matter.

Emailed queries to Zebpay, Coin-Secure and BtcxIndia did not elicit any response. SBI, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and Yes Bank did not respond to emails seeking comment.

Bitcoins are a digital currency that can be used to buy products and services without any intermediary. People also buy Bitcoins, which has been banned in some countries, as an investment.

Largely Unregulated

Although India hasn't banned Bitcoins, the cryptocurrency is largely unregulated.

The total revenue of the top 10 exchanges in India could be about Rs 40,000 crore, according to tax officials scrutinising these companies.

"These exchanges tend to show the total volumes both on buy and sell side as their revenue. In many instances, the exchanges themselves buy and sell cryptocurrencies on their own platform," said an indirect tax official who is part of a team investigating the applicability of sales tax on Bitcoin exchanges for the previous financial year.

Many of the exchanges operate at a margin of close to 20%, according to the people. The profit comes from the premium charged by the exchanges, the difference in the buying and selling price and when the exchanges themselves get involved in trading.

Most of the exchanges have different rates for buying and selling cryptocurrency. Often, the difference between buying and selling rates is about 25%.

The accounts of the exchanges in India were frozen after banks discovered they were used for reasons other than those stated when they were opened, the people said. At least eight accounts in various banks have been suspended, while others are being scrutinised and have had cash withdrawal limits imposed. Even the operational accounts could be suspended in the coming weeks, the people said.

"Reserve Bank of India has not issued any directive to us - it's a cautionary move on our part," a banker involved in the matter said. "We are wary about the purpose for which some of these current accounts are being used."

The Bitcoin exchanges have multiple accounts with various banks, the people aware of the matter said.

SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTION REPORTS

Banks have been mandated to file Suspicious Transaction Reports with the Financial Intelligence Unit in a time-bound manner.

"We have asked some of these companies to explain the businesses that they are involved in and why it was not specified when opening the accounts," said another banker who did not wish to be identified. "We will also be flagging some of these suspicious transactions with the concerned agencies."

Unable to operate their bank accounts, many Bitcoin exchanges are facing cashflow problems. Some promoters are looking to pledge their personal property as collateral.

Promoters had borrowed heavily from the banks and hoped to get private equity investment or other capital infusion, which hasn't happened. While there are cashflow issues, most of the exchanges have high revenue and healthy margins, said an investment banker who evaluated an exchange for investment.

"We would not like to invest till the taxation part is clarified," he said.

ET was the first to report on December 16 that tax departments in the country were assessing Bitcoin exchanges in India to determine their liability. At least two exchanges have approached the Authority for Advance Rulings seeking clarity on whether the goods and services tax (GST) applies to them.

The income tax department had launched searches on top Bitcoin exchanges in December.

The Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India have issued several warnings against dealing in Bitcoins, the former even comparing it with a Ponzi scheme. India has not banned Bitcoins, although eight countries including China have prohibited the digital currency.

The promoters of some cryptocurrency exchanges have tried unsuccessfully to get an appointment with senior government officials for the past month, according to a senior executive working with one of the exchanges.

Bitcoins have been volatile — having surged as much as 1,900% in 2017 to a high of $20,000 in December, they have crashed by half since then, ending at $10,000 on Friday.


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