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Holiday Digest: 6 Tech Policy Developments To Catch Up On

Why the RBI is worried about stablecoins, what’s the latest with Tumblr, and more.


As we return to work after a much-needed break, there’s quite a bit to catch up on in Indian tech policy. Here are some critical developments from the holidays that we don’t want you to miss:

1. Swiggy, Ola will now collect GST: With the new GST rule coming into effect from January 1, food delivery platforms will be charged 5% GST, effectively transferring the tax burden from restaurants to platforms. This will not mean an additional tax for customers, but only that GST will be transferred to the government through a different route. The new rule will also apply to cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, but as Inc42 reported, this tax is currently only charged on the part of the ride fare that goes to the company, and not to the driver.

2. WazirX on the radar of tax authorities: The GST department has launched an investigation into crypto exchange WazirX for allegedly evading Rs. 40.5 crore in tax, ET reported. The department alleged that WazirX issued its own cryptocurrency, WRX Coin, through Zanmai Labs, but did not pay the applicable 18 percent GST on it. The tax department has recovered Rs 49.2 crore from the company, which includes the GST owed plus interest and penalties, the report said. A spokesperson for Zanmai Labs told ET: “There was an ambiguity in the interpretation of one of the components which led to a different calculation of GST paid. However, we voluntarily paid additional GST in order to be cooperative and compliant. There was and is no intention to evade tax.”

3. RBI is worried about stablecoins: The Reserve Bank of India is worried about stablecoins (i.e. cryptocurrencies whose value is pegged to assets like the US dollar or Gold). If people start using stablecoins for domestic transactions, the RBI’s ability to control currency fluctuations and volatility could be constrained, the bank has warned in meetings with the government, according to an ET report.

“Currently regulations do not allow anyone to accept USD or any other foreign currency as mode of payment for domestic transactions whether trade or salaries. The risk that stablecoin could pose is that it if people in India start using USD backed stable coins as a mode of payment, partial or full, it can undermine the value of the Indian currency and the RBI will not have any control over this.” — Amit Maheshwari, tax partner AKM Global told ET

India’s Cryptocurrency Bill was supposed to be tabled in the Winter Session of the parliament last December but was moved to allow for more consultations.

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4. Ola, Uber have a 2016 court order to thank for its operations in Bangalore: Thanks to a 2016 court order, Ola and Uber continue to operate in Bangalore despite their cab aggregator licenses lapsing in June and December last year. Both the companies have filed for renewal as per Karnataka’s On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules, 2016, but the state’s transport department has not processed their applications because of failure to follow certain procedures, ET reported. Uber had challenged the new rules in 2016, and the Karnataka High Court had ruled then that no coercive action must be taken against the two companies while the challenge is pending.

5. Record High for UPI: 2021 also ended with UPI reaching new peaks, with a record 456 crore transactions transferring 8.26 lakh crore in December alone, Moneycontrol has reported. In 2021, UPI saw 3,874 crore transactions, up 105 percent from 1,887 crores in 2020, the report added. As the network sees record numbers, however, key stakeholders also expressed concerns about transaction failures:

6. Tumblr blocks mature content to stay in App Store: Tumblr will no longer show blogs that have mature content and will hide potentially suggestive and explicit content from search results and user dashboards on its iOS app. The company is also extending the definition of what sensitive content is to comply with Apple’s policies. “In order for us to remain in Apple’s App Store and for our Tumblr iOS app to be available, we needed to make changes that would help us be more compliant with their policies around sensitive content,” the company said in a blog post. While some of the banned terms are expected, like “porn” and “drugs,” there are also a few weird ones like “Tony the Tiger” and “Eugene Levy,” TechCrunch reported.

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