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Cryptocurrency exchanges explore ways to enter India | Banks News

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Global digital currency exchanges are exploring ways to set up in India, following in the footsteps of market leader Binance, industry sources told Reuters, while the government in New Delhi dithers over introducing a law that could ban cryptocurrencies.

Opponents of the potential ban say it would stifle the economic power of a tech-savvy, young nation of 1.35 billion people. There is no official data, but industry analysts reckon there are 15 million crypto investors in India holding more than 100 billion rupees ($1.37bn).

According to four sources, who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to comment on private discussions, US-based Kraken, Hong Kong-based Bitfinex and rival KuCoin are actively scouting the market, which analysts say would only get bigger if it was given a free rein. “These companies have already begun talks to understand the Indian market and the entry points better,” said one source directly involved with an exchange that had begun due diligence for an Indian firm it was considering acquiring.

The other two exchanges, he said, were in the initial stages of deciding whether to enter India and weighing their options, which effectively come down to a choice between setting up a subsidiary or buying an Indian firm, as Binance did two years ago.

Bitfinex declined to comment while Kraken and KuCoin did not respond to an email seeking comment.

All three exchanges are ranked in the world’s top 10 by data platform CoinMarketCap, based on their traffic, liquidity and trustworthiness of their reported trading volumes.

“The Indian market is huge and it is only starting to grow, if there was more policy certainty by now, Indian consumers would have been spoiled for choice in terms of exchanges because everyone wants to be here,” said Kumar Gaurav, founder of digital bank Cashaa.

Proponents of cryptocurrencies say they would be the most cost-efficient way for Indians abroad to remit funds home.

But authorities worry that rich people and criminals could hide their wealth in the digital world, and speculative flows of funds through digital channels, ungoverned by India’s strict exchange controls, could destabilise the financial system.

No rules

Hitherto, India has had no rules specifically for cryptocurrency exchanges wishing to set up in the country. Instead, they could register themselves as tech companies to obtain a relatively easy entry path.

In 2019, Binance acquired WazirX, an Indian cryptocurrency startup that has allowed users to buy and sell crypto with rupees on the Binance Fiat Gateway.

US-based exchange, Coinbase, has announced plans for a back-office in India.

But with the regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies taking a turn for worse globally, Indian authorities are exercising greater scrutiny.

In China, authorities have forbidden banks and online payment companies from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions.

And the Indian government was set to present a bill to Parliament by March that proposed a ban on cryptocurrencies, making trading and holding them illegal. But the government has held it back, and conflicting statements since have fuelled uncertainty over the bill’s fate.

Meantime, major Indian banks have begun to sever ties with cryptocurrency exchanges and traders, amid the Reserve Bank of India’s concerns about the financial stability risks posed by the volatile asset.

The RBI is looking at launching its own digital currency, but Governor Shaktikanta Das in February described those plans as a “work in progress”.

For all the uncertainty over what India will end up doing, some digital currency exchanges clearly reckon it would be better to gain entry rather than miss out.

“It’s clear that the rewards outweigh the perceived risks, which is luring these global firms to the Indian market,” said Darshan Bathija, chief executive officer of Vauld, a foreign crypto exchange with a presence in India.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Former winners Spain, holders Portugal face early Euro 2020 exit | Euro2020 News

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Portugal take on world champions France while Spain will face Slovakia on last day of group matches.

Spain and reigning champions Portugal are at risk of a shock early exit from Euro 2020 on Wednesday.

Former world champions Germany, meanwhile, need a draw at the Allianz Arena in the Bavarian capital to reach the last 16 on the last day of group matches but defeat would send Hungary through and possibly condemn Joachim Loew’s side to another group-stage exit, just like at the 2018 World Cup.

That is unthinkable for Germany, who beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal 4-2 at the weekend to kickstart their campaign but could be without Thomas Mueller due to a knee injury.

Portugal, who beat France at the last edition’s final to claim the trophy, will be eliminated if they lose to the same opponents and Hungary win but a draw will definitely take the 2016 champions through to the last 16.

France have already qualified but will want to win to secure top spot, meaning a theoretically easier tie in the next round.

Portugal’s neighbours Spain are in a similarly tricky position heading into their final Group E game against Slovakia in Seville.

The 2008 and 2012 European champions have drawn both matches so far against Sweden and Poland.

They need to win this time to be sure of reaching the knockout phase, although a draw would be enough to qualify as a best third-placed team, provided Poland fail to beat Sweden in Saint Petersburg.

“I have a feeling that we are like a bottle of cava that is about to be uncorked,” said coach Luis Enrique.

“As soon as we put in one complete performance and get a big victory, the confidence will come and you will start to see the best of us.”

Slovakia need a point to be certain of progressing, while Robert Lewandowski’s Poland have to beat already-qualified Sweden to advance.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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UAE-produced film slammed for depicting Qatar a ‘terrorist state’ | GCC News

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The Misfits, a Hollywood film co-produced by an Emirati company, condemned as ‘immoral’ and ‘absurd’.

A Hollywood film co-produced by an Emirati film company has been condemned as “immoral” and “absurd” for portraying Qatar as a “terrorist state”.

The Misfits, co-produced, filmed, and financed by the UAE-based FilmGate Production in partnership with Paramount Pictures and Highland Film Group, tells the story of savvy thief Richard Pace, played by Pierce Brosnan, who escapes from a high-security US prison and goes on to steal millions from the world’s most secure facilities.

In the film, the director refers to Qatar as “Jazeeristan” and accuses its citizens of supporting “terrorist organisations” while Abu Dhabi’s mercenaries are depicted as heroes, Doha News reported.

It added that the film portrays Qatar-based Egyptian Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi as “the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and the sponsor of global terrorism”.

‘Absurd’

The report cited Egyptian journalist, Mohamed Nasser, as saying in a video posted online that The Misfits is nothing more than an attempt by the UAE to “destroy Qatar’s reputation”.

A Twitter user, who watched a leaked copy of the movie, describes it as “absurd” and not worthy of feedback.

“Shame on whoever funded this nonsense,” he added.

Palestinian journalist Jamal Rayyan described the film as “immoral”.

In a series of tweets, Qatari scholar Muhammad al-Kubaisi also slammed the film.

“May God never bless the Emirati leadership. They are using Hollywood and producing a movie called The Misfits, which cost them more than $50m dollars to damage Qatar’s reputation and accuse its peaceful society of terrorism,” he said.

“I do not know why exactly the UAE wants to damage Qatar’s reputation? Is it because we are Muslims and united with God and it wants to eliminate Islam and Muslims? Does the UAE want to distance Qatar from the essence of Islam and support of Muslims everywhere?”

The development came just months after Qatar and its neighbours renewed ties after more than three years of a blockade imposed on Doha by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE.

Qatari and UAE officials held their first meeting since the detente in February this year. In January, the UAE resumed air and sea entry points to Qatar.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Air raid kills dozens in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, say witnesses | Ethiopia News

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Witnesses say Tuesday’s attack targeted a busy market in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray village of Togoga.

Dozens of people have been reportedly killed after an air attack targeted a busy market in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray village of Togoga on Tuesday, a day after residents said fighting had flared north of the regional capital Mekelle.

The bomb hit the market at approximately 1pm (10:00 GMT), according to a woman who told Reuters news agency that her husband and two-year-old daughter were injured in the attack.

“We didn’t see the plane but we heard it,” she said. “When the explosion happened, everyone ran out. Later, we came back and were trying to pick up the injured.”

Two doctors and a nurse in Mekelle told the Associated Press (AP) they were unable to confirm how many people were killed, but one doctor said health workers at the scene reported “more than 80 civilian deaths”.

The health workers spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Increased fighting

The reported air attack comes amid some of the fiercest fighting in the Tigray region since the conflict began in November as Ethiopian forces supported by those from neighbouring Eritrea pursue Tigray’s former leaders.

Reuters reported that Ethiopian military spokesperson Colonel Getnet Adane did not confirm or deny the incident. He said air attacks were a common military tactic and the force does not target civilians.

Three other health workers told Reuters that the Ethiopian military was blocking ambulances from reaching the scene.

Wounded patients being treated at Mekele’s Ayder Hospital told health workers that a plane dropped a bomb on Togoga’s marketplace.

A nurse at the hospital said the wounded included a two-year-old child with “abdominal trauma” and a six-year-old. She added that an ambulance carrying a wounded baby to Mekelle was blocked for two hours and the baby died on the way.

Hailu Kebede, foreign affairs head for the Salsay Woyane Tigray opposition party and who comes from Togoga, told AP that one fleeing witness had counted more than 30 bodies and other witnesses were reporting more than 50 people killed.

“It was horrific,” said an official for an international aid group who told the AP he had spoken with a colleague and others at the scene.

“We don’t know if the jets were coming from Ethiopia or Eritrea. They are still looking for bodies by hand. More than 50 people were killed, maybe more.”

Witnesses said several more ambulances were turned back later in the day and on Wednesday morning, but one group of medical workers reached the site on Tuesday evening via a different route.

“We have been asking, but until now we didn’t get permission to go, so we don’t know how many people are dead,” said one of the doctors in Mekelle.

Another doctor said the Red Cross ambulance he was travelling in on Tuesday, trying to reach the scene, was shot at twice by Ethiopian soldiers who held his team for 45 minutes before ordering them back to Mekelle.

“We are not allowed to go,” he said. “They told us whoever goes, they are helping the troops of the TPLF.”

The TPLF refers to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which governed Tigray until it was overthrown by a federal government offensive in November. The subsequent fighting has killed thousands and forced more than two million people from their homes.

While the United Nations has said all sides have been accused of abuses, Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers have been repeatedly accused by witnesses of looting and destroying health centres across Tigray and denying civilians access to care.

This month, humanitarian agencies warned that 350,00 people in Tigray are facing famine. Aid workers have said they have been repeatedly denied access to several parts of the region by soldiers.

The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says it has nearly defeated the rebels. But forces loyal to the TPLF recently announced an offensive in parts of Tigray and have claimed a string of victories.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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