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Informal pressure from RBI led Coinbase to roll back UPI payments: CEO Brian Armstrong

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Crypto Currency

Says the company’s preference is currently to work with the authorities and focus on relaunching

Coinbase CEO and Co-founder Brian Armstrong said that informal pressure from the Reserve Bank of India led the global crypto exchange to disable UPI deposits, a few days after its India launch. Coinbase was launched in India on April 7. On the same day, NPCI put out a statement that it is not aware of any crypto exchange using UPI. Shortly after this, Coinbase disabled UPI integration on the platform.

“India is a unique market in the sense that the Supreme Court has ruled that they can’t ban crypto. But there are elements in the government there, including the Reserve Bank of India who don’t seem to be as positive about it. And so they, in the press, It’s been called a “shadow ban” — basically, they’re applying soft pressure behind the scenes to try to disable some of these payments which might be going through UPI,” Armstrong said in the company’s earnings call. 

He added that this shadow ban might violate the Supreme Court ruling. The company’s preference is currently to work with the authorities and focus on relaunching. There are several paths that the company has to relaunch with other payment methods there and that’s the default path going forward for Coinbase. 

Hopes to be back in action

Armstrong hopes that Coinbase will be live back in India in relatively short order along with a number of other countries where they are pursuing international expansion similarly. Further, talking about the company’s international expansion, he said that one of Coinbase’s theories is that action produces information.

“In most places in the free world and in democracies, crypto is going to eventually be regulated and legal, but it’s going to take time for them to get comfortable with this. And the way that we push the conversation forward is by taking action. That’s why we’re going to go launch, even if we’re not exactly sure how the reaction is going to be received. We’re going to launch because it forces the discussion to be had,” he added. 

Following Coinbase’s fiasco, existing crypto exchanges in India have also stopped supporting UPI deposits in India. Crypto investors have also noticed that the availability of UPI support keeps changing on various crypto exchange platforms. 

Published on May 11, 2022

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