Nations Must Ensure Crypto Not In Wrong Hands, "Can Spoil Our Youth": PM

 The world's democracies must work together on cryptocurrency to ensure it "does not end up in the wrong hands", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today in his first public comments on the subject as the government works on new rules for digital currencies.

PM Modi's caution comes days after he held discussions on how to move forward on cryptocurrency in India, with concerns raised on unregulated crypto markets becoming avenues for money laundering and terror financing.

Commenting that technology and data are becoming new weapons and that democracies must cooperate in rules for data governance, the Prime Minister said: "Take cryptocurrency or Bitcoin, for example. It is important that all democratic nations work together on this and ensure it does not end up in wrong hands, which can spoil our youth."

PM Modi was speaking at the Sydney Dialogue, a forum on emerging, critical and cybertechnologies.

The government is considering a regulatory framework to manage and oversee investments made in cryptocurrency.

A report in the Economic Times said yesterday said the government could bar the use of cryptocurrencies for transactions or making payments, but could allow them to be held as assets like gold, shares or bonds.

The Prime Minister's meeting on Saturday on crypto was an outcome of a consultative process that involved the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Finance Ministry and Home Ministry, along with experts. Attempts to mislead the youth through over-promising and non-transparent advertising must be stopped, it was reportedly discussed in the meeting.

RBI chief Shaktikanta Das has also warned that India needs much deeper discussions on cryptocurrencies. "When the central bank says that we have serious concerns from the point of view of macroeconomic and financial stability, there are far deeper issues involved. I'm yet to see serious, well-informed discussions in the public space on these issues," Mr Das said at a recent event.

In his address, the Prime Minister said the Digital Age "is changing everything around us" and has redefined politics, economy and society. "It is raising new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, law, rights and security. It is reshaping international competition, power and leadership," he said.

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