A 37-year-old man was arrested here on Tuesday for running India’s first bitcoin ATM kiosk, which police called illegal as it had been set up without approvals.
Harish BV, from Tumakuru and co-founder of Unocoin Technologies, Rajajinagar, operated the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road. The kiosk facilitated cryptocurrency deals. Central Crime Branch sleuths seized a teller machine, two laptops, a mobile, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five seals of Unocoin company, a cryptocurrency device and Rs 1.8 lakh. Harish was produced before the I ACMM court, which sent him to police custody for seven days. Police said more arrests are likely.
According to police, the kiosk was a platform for bitcoin buyers and sellers. “The accused claims he’s running the kiosk for six months. We think he’s misleading us,” a CCB source said. Police requested public not to be lured by the prospect of making huge profits and invest money in cryptocurrencies.
Unocoin co-founder Sathvik Viswanath defended his company’s business model, saying it’s perfectly legal for Indians to buy, own or sell bitcoins. “We got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018. The minister’s statement was clear: Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender’. There’s a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment and there’s no regulation for the industry,” he said.