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RBI Denies Setting up Research Unit on Cryptocurrency, Blockchain or AI: RTI

A month ago, a report around RBI’s “Blockchain, Crypto and AI research Unit” went viral. It was first reported by ET and later by pretty much all of crypto media except us. Since the report was based on information cited by two “anonymous sources”, Coin crunch India filed an RTI to get an answer straight from the horse’s mouth – RBI.

The Reserve bank in its reply to the RTI query said, “There is no new unit created formally in RBI for the purpose (Blockchain, Crypto and AI) mentioned in RTI query”.

On August 27, ET first reported RBI has formed a new unit within the central bank to boost its “intellectual capital” in emerging technologies like “cryptocurrency, blockchain and artificial intelligence”. The news was picked up by most of the prominent cryptocurrency, technology and financial news platforms rather quickly.

The supposed unit was reported to be a month old and the existence of which was confirmed by two anonymous sources close to the matter. It was and still is, considered a step from the central bank in the right direction, however RBI never made an official announcement of the same and now have denied its existence over an RTI response. 

I personally filed an RTI application asking the RBI to provide more information on the new unit like, if it is true and who is heading the unit on the same day. About a month later, on September 26, RBI disposed off the RTI with the below reply

“There is no new unit created formally in RBI for the purpose (Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence) mentioned in RTI query. Therefore there is no information to furnish in the matter”.

Reserve Bank of India in the RTI query reply
Response of RBI to RTI query on Blockchain and AI research Unit

If the RTI response is to be believed RBI has created no unit to research emerging technologies, however, RBI has been active in responding to petitioners against the April circular on Banking Ban for crypto trading. On Sep 8, RBI had filed a counter affidavit in court against IAMAI citing more than 10 important points behind the banking ban.

RBI is part of the committee setup by the government earlier this year under Subhash Chandra Garg, the secretary of Department of Economic Affairs to submit a report on regulations around cryptocurrency. Multiple news reports have estimate the regulations to formally be announced by the end of 2018, which itself is now a delayed estimate.

RBI is also reportedly working on a Data Science laboratory to use data, analytics and real time information for different RBI functions like inflation targeting, banking regulations and policy enforcement.

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