Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed at Global Summit by Assocham

  

Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed
at Global Summit by Assocham

 

After the demonetization of 85 percent of the circulating currency in India in November 2016, ASSOCHAM organized the first global summit on Blockchain technology. Now it is all set to hold the second global summit on Blockchain technology with a focus on opportunities and challenges for the Indian economy. ASSOCHAM is a ‘chamber of chambers’ in India having been in existence since 1920 and having in its fold more than 400 industry chambers. The mission of ASSOCHAM is to ‘articulate the genuine, legitimate needs and interests of its members.’ They are also thought of as promoters of new business models.

Going beyond just a nascent technology

While the Blockchain has made a major impact in the world and its potential has been realized and is being released around the globe, in India the situation is still one of considering Blockchain as a nascent technology. The Second Global Summit which will be held in Bangalore on Friday, 21st April 2017 will focus on opportunities and challenges associated with Blockchain technology and explore the future prospects in India. The key discussion areas for the summit are the impact of Blockchain technology on banks, insurance, and financial institutions, legal perspectives and regulation from Bitcoin to Blockchain, applications of Bitcoin and Blockchain and criminal activity, security and data in the Blockchain.

It is expected that a wide variety of people from different backgrounds will attend the summit including company management, telecom and IT sector workers, security and legal heads, Bitcoin exchanges, regulators, bankers, fund managers and etc. Important representatives of the Indian government are expected to be present including Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and IT. PP Chaudhary, the Minister of State Law and Justice and Electronics and IT, Dr. A.S. Ramasastri, Director for Development and Research in Banking Technology and others.

Negative news can be countered by information

In recent days there has been a lot of controversy regarding the status of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India. This is the result of misconceptions and misunderstanding of what Blockchain and Bitcoin are all about. We talked with Santosh Parashar, joint director and Head-Corporate Affairs and Capital Market Division of ASSOCHAM about the legality of Bitcoin and how this summit could help address these issues.

He says:

“I absolutely agree that in recent days there has been a lot of news about the legality of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India. Indeed, this is happening due to the lack of related know-how at different levels in the economy. A few illegal transactions that recently came into notice cannot be ignored with reference to Bitcoin and its legality in India. In our first summit organized in March 2017, nearly all such possible negatives related to Bitcoin were addressed. They were not a fairy tale but based on worldwide experiences that may or may not happen in India. Simultaneously, the investments and transactions in Bitcoin are not altogether ceasing to an end due to any such fear of legal status in India.”

Santosh further adds about learning from other countries and the role the summit is supposed to play, “The options available for India to choose from are – learning by practice, learning by mistakes or learning through others. To what extent, the cost of particular learning is affordable should be a subject matter of utmost priority. Certain countries like the US, China, and Japan which had banned Bitcoin earlier and now following the trend of acceptability must have learned through mistakes. This has to be taken care of by the investors as well as the government and regulators in India because it is a matter of economic significance. In the absence of any such legal tender of Bitcoin in India, ultimately opportunity cost is foregone as there is a loss of taxes to the government. Therefore, this summit is expected to address the legal issues, applications, and implication of Blockchain Technology in the light of recent global developments happening.”

India can become a Fintech Hub

India has been known as an IT hub for more than a decade now. The contributions of India’s IT sector can’t be downplayed as the country is the world’s largest sourcing destination for Information technology (IT) industry and accounts for 67 percent of the $124-130 bln market according to ibef. The industry also gives employment to close to 10 mln people. India can capitalize on its IT experience and recreate a similar success story in the Financial Technology (fintech) sector as well. The need though is for a better understanding of the possibilities that reside in this area and for changing perceptions in New Delhi.

The need for a conducive environment

Demonetization was followed by a push for a Cashless India where all the transactions are done digitally. In fact, if India truly does want to go digital, it will have to rely on the emergent fintech sector and try to embrace digital currencies and Blockchain technology.

Santosh points out:

“The traditional technology models used in the financial sector and sub-sectors for operations are becoming inoperative at the same cost. Hence the new cost effective and efficient technology has much scope to become handy. Fintech has gained substantial attention of traditional players in the Indian financial system. However, the participants of the fintech ecosystem require having a conducive environment of collaboration and dynamism. To build a robust fintech ecosystem, the proper mix of innovative and technical skills, CapEx, government policies and regulatory framework could drive fintech as a key enabler.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Ledger grabs $7 million for its cryptocurrency hardware wallets

   Things are going incredibly well for Ledger these days.

People find bitcoins, ethers, and other cryptocurrencies exciting again. And the French startup just raised a $7 million Series A round to make hardware security devices ubiquitous. MAIF Avenir, XAnge, Wicklow Capital, GDTRE, Libertus Capital, Digital Currency Group, The Whittemore Collection, Kima Ventures, BHB Network and Nicolas Pinto participated in today’s funding round.

If you’ve been following cryptocurrencies for a while, you know that you shouldn’t trust bitcoin and ethereum startups that centralize everything. There have been many hacks, there will be more hacks. And you don’t want to trust some startup’s security team when you can do it yourself. Sure, you can run your own bitcoin wallet on your computer. But hackers could still access your computer and your bitcoin wallet, so it’s still a point of failure.

Ledger makes hardware wallets for multiple currencies. These tiny devices have a secure element. You might not even realize it, but your smartphone also has a secure element to handle fingerprint readers or NFC payments, such as Apple Pay or Android Pay. Ledger runs some tasks directly on the secure element, making it much more secure than running an app on your phone or your computer exclusively. This way, you can easily protect your bitcoins without a lot of security knowledge. Nobody can access the private keys on the device. And the device constantly checks the integrity of the firmware.

The company also makes sure that nobody can compromise the device during the manufacturing process. “When we manufacture the devices, all chips receive a Ledger certificate,” co-founder and CEO Eric Larchevêque told me. “When the device boots up, the computer sends a security challenge and the device answers.”

The Ledger Nano S is the company’s most popular device. It’s the size of a USB key and has a tiny display. After initiating a transaction from your computer, you’ll have to confirm the transaction on the device itself and enter your PIN code. This way, even if your computer has been compromised, the transaction order won’t go through on the device and you won’t be able to confirm the transaction.

The company also makes a high-end device with a built-in touch screen called the Ledger Blue. The Ledger Nano S costs around €70 while the Blue costs €275. Ledger has sold more than 50,000 wallets so far, and the last few months have beat the company’s expectations by a wide margin. But cryptocurrency wallets are just the first step.

By running a secure operating system on a secure element, there are other potential applications. For instance, Ledger could sell chips so that companies working in sensitive industries can make sure their servers weren’t compromised. You can imagine hedge funds and financial institutions using Ledger products. Energy suppliers could also use Ledger’s technology to make sure that the consumption level is legit. That’s why the company is raising money to go beyond hardware wallets and find those industrial clients.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

White House:
Fintech ‘Changing Relations’ to Finance

US government interest in fintech continues to trend as the White House hosts a dedicated event – and says fintech is leading reforms for consumers and institutions alike.

White House Acknowledging Fintech

The remarks were made by Adrienne Harris, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy following the FinTech Summit event Friday, which she led. “Technology is changing the way consumers relate to their finances, and the way institutions function in our financial system,” Harris’ blog post summarizes.

The event played host to a range of financial industry figures – “stakeholders from across the financial technology (fintech) ecosystem, including traditional financial services institutions, fintech start-ups, investors, thought leaders, and policy makers” – and discussed everything “from big data to blockchain,” she writes.

Government representatives were also present, including Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who moderated a panel on how to ensure fintech startups and big business have the resources and support to innovate for the benefit of the US economy. Also discussed Friday were allusions to the problem of financial data handling in the US and its potential risk to consumer integrity, following a report the government published in May.

“[F]inancial data can help prevent fraud, assist consumers with managing their financial lives, and prompt access to credit for underserved populations,” Harris reports. “But these opportunities also come with risks for consumers, including risks to privacy and civil rights.” A recent Bitcoin.com piece on the problems of legacy finance for US consumers demonstrates the growing awareness of the need for change from businesses, and policy makers would appear to be making similar – if more understated – acknowledgments.

Also acknowledged were the empowering of developing-world communities to increase “resilience” through fintech, specifically mobile-based payment networks such as those active in Kenya and India.

Too Little Too Late?

More broadly, however, Harris’ comments point to a hypothetical reality which for cryptocurrency users is already the here and now. She writes:

Imagine a world in which your phone can help you make financial decisions […] Imagine a time when, as a small business owner, you can accept payments online from all over the world in minutes. Or when you can send money to relatives back home instantly and automatically.

For those with an awareness of the Bitcoin industry’s many financial service providers – from remittance to merchant solutions and beyond – calls to “imagine” such a world may well sound behind the times. While the White House may consider fintech to be “increasingly changing” consumer and business habits, the increasingly common perception is that cryptocurrency-based alternatives have already done so for an increasing section of the world’s population.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

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What Does A Biz Dev
Person Actually Do?

Theory of Business Development
According to the Grand Unified Theory of Business Development, Biz Dev is simply about pursuing opportunities for long-term growth from customers, markets, and relationships.  Sounds simple enough, but has anyone ever set out to describe what a “Biz Dev Person” actually does?  How do they spend their day?  What should you look for when hiring someone for a Biz Dev role?While Business Development may still mean many different things to many different people, at its core I believe a Biz Dev job is focused on 3 activities:
  • Customers: Find new ones and extract more value from current ones.
  • Markets: Figure out where new customers “live” (both geographically and in terms of "buying mindset") and find a way to reach them.
  • Relationships: Build and leverage relationships founded on trust and integrity to facilitate opportunities.

“Well,” you might say.  ”That sounds pretty straightforward.” Yes, it does sound that way.  In the simplest of terms, business development may be about figuring out how to sell more to customers or finding new customers to whom to sell.  But to suggest that “that’s all there is to it” is to suggest that running a marathon just requires putting one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles.  Of course, training for and running a marathon requires a unique approach to making sure you don’t peter out before the finish line.  Similarly, business development requires a unique combination of skills to ensure that the value you derive from an opportunity persists for the long haul:

The Biz Dev Skillsets: Strategy, Sales, and Relationship Management

  • Strategy: How should you go about pursuing an opportunity?  How do you know which path is best?  Just because an opportunity is in front of you, doesn’t mean it’s a good one.  Understanding the fundamental drivers of your business, and the business of your customers, partners, and competitors is critical to being able to make wise decisions in the pursuit of long-term value.  Being able to assess an opportunity for its potential to create long-term value, determine the paths available to you to pursue it, and understand the trade-offs and risks of one path vs. another, are core Biz Dev functions.
  • Sales: Whether you're selling a product or the idea of a partnership, almost every business development role has some element of sales.  The process of navigating through an organization, identifying decision-makers and uncovering their unmet needs, and concisely demonstrating the value of what you can offer are core sales skills needed whether you're selling a product, service, or partnership.
  • Relationship Management: From How to Win Friends and Influence People to Never Eat Alone, much ink has been spilled on the importance and value of strong, respect-based relationships.  Business development requires not only having an expansive network to help you facilitate a deal, but also a deep understanding of how to build and maintain new relationships to leverage them when needed.  Relationships with partners, customers, colleagues, and even the media, can all be crucial factors in not only getting in the door to a biz dev opportunity but keeping it open.

“Wait a second,” you’re asking.  ”You forgot about partnerships?  Isn’t business development all about partnerships?”  In short, no, it's not. Partnerships are a common course to pursue a given business development opportunity, but they are but one option amongst many when evaluating the path to creating long-term value.  And though scouting, signing, and developing partnerships is an everyday task in many business development roles, the skills required for partnerships are really an amalgam of all other Biz Dev skills – a mix of sales, relationship management, and strategy.  As frequently as they arise in the day job of business development, partnerships are only one potential outcome of Biz Dev done right.

How Biz Dev Roles Change by Company Size

Do the role of business development change as a company matures from a startup to enterprise?  Yes and no.  In the early stages of any company, the role of business development is often left to the founder, CEO, or an early hire.  The role of forging partnership deals does take on an increased priority, as the decision of which potential path to pursue an opportunity often favors the sharing of resources that's incumbent in partnerships.  But the day-to-day activities of business development remains the same: at a startup or a large company alike, whoever plays the role of "biz dev guy/gal" must be constantly evaluating the best path to create long-term value, whether it an option built in-house or pursued in partnership with others.

At larger companies, the role of business development may be divided across a broader array of individuals.  Sure, teams of people with "Business Development" on their business cards may focus on the full spectrum of activities, from sourcing business development opportunities to evaluating the opportunity's potential to create long-term value and following through on the execution.  But just as often, the individual functions of the business development role may be split across an organization: a member of the sales team may source feedback from customers, who passes along an opportunity to create a new product to the Product Management team, who works with Finance to size and evaluate an opportunity and Operations to assess the resources needed to pursue it.  Perhaps none of those individuals consider themselves to be serving a "Business Development" function, but in total they are a collective BD team that seeks to create long-term value for their organization in very much the same way as an individual who plays every part.

Pure Biz Dev

In my view, a “pure” Biz Dev job will have some combination of all of the above skillsets – identifying and strategically assessing an opportunity to create long-term value and then executing on a path to pursue that value.  But whether you're playing Biz Dev as a team sport or an individual contributor, the interplay between Strategy, Sales, and Relationship Management informs the potential for a company's growth path.   Business Development is a function that is varied, complex, and exciting – although the nature of Biz Dev may be ambiguous to some,  the importance of the role should be clear to all.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor