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Google Removes Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Including Kraken and Binance, from Play Store in India

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan Wong

15 January 2024

Google has removed several cryptocurrency exchanges, including Kraken and Binance, from its Play Store in India, citing alleged violations of anti-money laundering regulations. This action comes after show-cause notifications from the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), prompting Apple to also remove the apps, and ISPs to block cryptocurrency exchange websites. The Indian IT Ministry, responding to an FBI request, directed restrictions on the websites of nine Indian services, affecting global exchanges like Bittrex and Bitfinex.

Local cryptocurrency traders in India have faced challenges due to a 30% capital gains tax and a 1% transaction fee, leading to a significant shift to international platforms with laxer regulations. Regulatory arbitrage and a general decline in trading activity have impacted Indian exchanges like WazirX. However, Indian platforms like CoinSwitch Kuber and CoinDCX continue to enforce stringent identity verification.

Amidst the regulatory landscape, CoinSwitch CEO Ashish Singhal urges offshore exchanges to comply with India's PMLA requirements for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and consider enrolling with the FIU-IND. India has a history of regulatory skepticism toward cryptocurrencies, with the Reserve Bank of India imposing a ban five years ago, later overturned by the Supreme Court. The central bank remains cautious about virtual digital assets, comparing them to Ponzi schemes.

The removal of cryptocurrency exchanges from the Play Store reflects the ongoing challenges faced by the crypto industry in India and its susceptibility to regulatory interventions, impacting both local and international players in the market.