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BCCI asks IPL teams, media channels to stay away from crypto sponsorships: Report

“Misleading” crypto advertising has elicited strong feelings from the Indian government recently.

IPL team owners and media rights holder Star & Disney India should abstain from signing any sponsorship deals with cryptocurrency exchanges, the BCCI has ordered in a directive, the Economic Times has reported. This comes after the Prime Minister raised concerns about misleading crypto ads in a meeting with key stakeholders.

According to ET, the franchisees were upset with the BCCI’s order:

“It’s a major opportunity loss. The kind of money they were offering for the main sponsorship was 1.5 times of what the current sponsor is paying,” one executive said. “They wanted to build their brand with our association and were ready to pay for that.” — ET source

The BCCI directive on crypto sponsorships might serve as a precursor to a larger ban on ads by crypto exchanges. Government sources have recently indicated that active solicitation by exchanges might be altogether banned in the crypto bill.

Crypto exchanges agree to curb ads after meeting with PM

In a recent meeting with crypto exchanges and other stakeholders, the Prime Minister raised concerns regarding misleading crypto ads. “It was strongly felt that attempts to mislead the youth through over-promising and non-transparent advertising be stopped,” a source told Moneycontrol.

After the meeting, prominent crypto exchanges including WazirX, BitBns, and Coinswitch Kuber decided to halt advertisements.

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India’s approach to regulating cryptocurrencies: A timeline of events

Here’s a timeline of everything that’s happened till now around crypto regulation in India:

  • April 2018: The Reserve Bank of India banned regulated entities including banks from providing services to crypto exchanges. It said that cryptocurrencies raise concerns of “consumer protection, market integrity, and money laundering, among others”.
  • July 2019: A report by the Finance Ministry (drafted in 2017) advocated for a ban on the use of cryptocurrency in India. The report was drafted by an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs Subhash Chandra Garg.
  • March 2020: The RBI ban was then overturned by the Supreme Court of India which said that the move was “disproportionate”. It led to a surge in sign-ups across various crypto exchanges as they were able to access banking services.
  • February 2021: The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021 was listed in the official agenda of the Lok Sabha for the budget session, seeking to ban all private cryptocurrencies and allow a framework for an RBI-backed digital currency. The bill, however, was not introduced in the budget session.
  • July 2021: The RBI governor announced that the central bank is working towards a “phased implementation strategy” for the introduction of central bank-backed digital currency (CBDC), giving regulators necessary powers of oversight and monitoring which cryptocurrencies lack.
  • November 2021: The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2021 has been listed in the official agenda for the winter session, with the same purpose of seeking to ban all private cryptocurrencies and allow a framework for an RBI-backed digital currency.

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