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Impossible to Allow Crypto Trading without SEBI, RBI Approval says Zerodha CEO

A user asked Zerodha if their tagline “Invest in Everything” means they will be looking into allowing Crypto Trading soon?

India has over a dozen cryptocurrency exchanges and the number has been steadily growing since the Supreme court judgment that quashed RBI’s Banking restrictions. It is only a matter of time before the big brokers of stock market take note and get involved in the business, atleast one would assume so.

The CEO of one of India’s largest stock brokers Zerodha says it won’t be possible until SEBI and RBI explicitly allow their intermediaries to deal in crypto. He also added that he is personally not associated with Bitcoin or any cryptocurrencies.

In March 2020, shortly after the judgment, Demetrius Pais, mobile product manager at a leading crypto exchange shot the question to Zerodha over the latter’s platform TradingQnA. He received a response from Nithin, the CEO of Zerodha three days back.

Pais asked if Zerodha is considering Crypto trading anytime soon after the Supreme Court Judgment and whether or not Zerodha may miss the first mover advantage as the space is becoming crowded with other exchanges.

The answer,

“Until SEBI and RBI explicitly allows their intermediaries to deal in crypto, it will be impossible to do this not just for us but any SEBI/RBI registered intermediary.”

Nithin – CEO, Zerodha

Unsurprisingly, shortly after, there was a user pitching their crypto index to Nithin over the same chat. To which Nithin said,

“Like I said earlier, until RBI and SEBI explicitly allows us with some form of regulation, I don’t think as a company or personally can be associated with Crypto. Huge risk of regulatory lashback. But thanks for offering to help.”

Nithin – CEO, Zerodha

Pais further asked if Zerodha will get involved once there are regulations in place, to which Nithin responded, “Doesn’t make any sense to reinvent the wheel”, possibly hinting at the exchanges that are already operational.

You can find many examples of India’s rich keeping away from Bitcoin. PayTM’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma until 2018 tweeted news articles on Bitcoin and periodically mocked the price volatility, but stopped since April 2018 (right after the RBI Banking Ban) when he tweeted this:

Anand Mahindra rejoiced DEA’s Draft bill that recommended a complete ban on Bitcoin.

Everyone fears regulatory lashback, especially when it comes to handling money. Nithin’s point around the subject is worth debating. Will the government soften to cryptocurrencies and if they do, will these stock brokers pounce at the opportunity, only time will tell.

Do you think RBI or SEBI will regulate Cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comment below.

Update: Latest response from Nithin, CEO of Zerodha was added to the article.

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