Indian entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani endorsed cryptocurrencies as a store of value, saying the citizens of the country should be allowed to have them as an asset class. His comments come at a time amid rumors circulating that the Indian government is introducing legislation to ban cryptocurrencies. Nilekani is the co-founder of Indian IT giant Infosys and the founding architect of the national biometric ID system, Aadhaar.
Nandan Nilekani is also the chairman of a special Indian committee assessing digital payments in India and an advisor to several government agencies including India’s central bank.
His stance on cryptocurrencies is significant, as he is one of India's most prominent tech personalities who played a key role in building India's digital rails such as Aadhaar or the UPI payment infrastructure.
During a conversation on the Clubhouse app with angel investor Balaji Srinivasan, Nilekani spoke in favor of cryptocurrencies.
He even suggested that the government’s proposed digital currency can sit on a parallel rail on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI):
"We should think of crypto as an asset class and allow people to have some crypto. Crypto as a transaction medium will not work as fast as UPI, which is targeting a billion transactions a day. However, crypto has enormous capital."
During the session, Nilekani further emphasized that Indian regulators need to help the country’s micro, small and medium enterprises access capital through Bitcoin:
“We need to look at how it will help Indians, how MSMEs can access capital using Bitcoins. No amount of tech is going to sway anyone's view.”
Nilekani’s remarks come amid increased uncertainty and doubt in India regarding the status of cryptocurrencies in the country.
Anonymous sources representing Indian government officials have been providing statements to major media houses on an upcoming crypto ban since the beginning of the year.
However, India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently hinted that there might not be a blanket ban on crypto operations. She made it clear that there will not be a complete ban on cryptocurrencies or at least the technology part of it, saying:
“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options. We will allow certain windows for people to do experiments on blockchain, bitcoins, or cryptocurrency.”