July 21, 2024

Apple pulls Binance, Kraken and other crypto apps in India

Image Credits: Gabby Jones / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Apps of as many as eight crypto exchanges including Binance, Kraken, Mexc and Kucoin have disappeared from Apple’s App Store in India, less than two weeks after the global firms were flagged for operating “illegally” in the country. Financial Intelligence Unit, an Indian government agency which scrutinizes financial transactions, late last month issued show cause notices to nine crypto firms and alleged that they weren’t compliant with India’s anti-money laundering rules.

FIU had asked India’s IT Ministry to block websites of all the nine services in India. Other exchanges whose apps have been pulled are Huobi, Gate.io, Bittrex, and Bitfinex. Bitstamp, another offending exchange named by FIU, was still operational on App Store in India.

The apps are still listed on the Google Play Store in India and their websites are also still accessible in the country. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many Indian traders have switched to global cryptocurrency platforms in recent quarters in an apparent move to evade taxes. India began taxing virtual currencies last year, levying a 30% tax on the gains and a 1% deduction on each crypto transaction. India-based crypto exchanges including a16z-backed CoinSwitch Kuber, B Capital-backed CoinDCX and former Binance-partner WazirX continue to require rigorous know-your-customer verifications before onboarding new users, the same hasn’t been true of many global platforms. (Trading volume on WazirX has dropped by a staggering 97% in two years partly because many traders have moved to global apps.)

The Indian cryptocurrency exchanges CoinDCX and CoinSwitch Kuber had previously cautioned the New Delhi government that its new taxation policy on crypto would lead many users to shift to decentralized exchanges or seek out non-compliant services. On Tuesday, CoinDCX announced that it would provide rewards to customers who transfer their crypto assets from global exchanges to its India-based platform.

India has historically taken a tough stance toward cryptocurrencies and the companies that enable their trading. The Reserve Bank of India implemented a ban on cryptocurrencies in the country about half a decade ago. While this ban was eventually struck down by India’s Supreme Court, the central bank has persisted in advocating for outlawing crypto since then and its top officials have likened the virtual digital assets to Ponzi scheme.

Coinbase, another popular global crypto exchange, stopped onboarding new customers in India last year. Coinbase chief executive Brian Armstrong alleged in 2022 that the firm was facing “informal pressure” from the central bank in India.

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