In a significant move, the Indian government has escalated its crackdown on offshore crypto exchanges operating without local registrations. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has directed Apple Inc. to remove the apps of several platforms, including Binance, Bitfinex, HTX (formerly Huobi), and KuCoin, from its App Store in the country. This crackdown follows the authorities’ notification on December 28, suspecting nine exchanges of misconduct. The regulatory action aims to bring these exchanges in line with India’s regulations and protect crypto traders’ interests.
Apple has removed the apps of eight exchanges from its App Store in response to the government’s directives. Google has also been approached to remove these apps from its Play Store, though, as of the latest update, the apps remain accessible on Google’s platform in India. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Apple, Google, and India’s technology ministry have yet to respond to requests for comments.
Financial Intelligence Unit’s Actions
On December 28, India’s Financial Intelligence Unit issued compliance show-cause notices to the nine offshore platforms, alleging illegal operations in India without compliance with anti-money laundering laws. The unit also urged the information ministry to block the URLs of these entities. While the websites are still accessible from India, the removal of apps from major app stores signals a concerted effort by the government to tighten its grip on the crypto sector.
Global Pressure on Binance
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, has been under global regulatory scrutiny. Accusations of catering to local users without proper licenses have led to actions by authorities in several countries, including Belgium and Australia. In November, Binance agreed to pay USD 4.3 billion after pleading guilty in the U.S. to anti-money laundering and sanction violations. The company, which claims not to have a global headquarters, is now facing increased pressure from India.
Impact on Crypto Traders and Exchanges
The regulatory crackdown has sparked concerns among Indian crypto traders, leading many to shift their deposits to local exchanges that comply with the nation’s regulations. The move is seen as an attempt to ensure the safety of funds and avoid potential disruptions in access. Some local exchanges have reported an increase in trading volume as traders seek compliant alternatives.
Challenges for Offshore Exchanges
Several exchanges, including Bitfinex, KuCoin, and HTX, are yet to respond to the recent developments. Binance, however, acknowledges the global nature of the situation, stating that it is not unique to them and affects other web3 industry apps as well. The company reportedly works towards constructive policy-making that benefits users and market participants.
India’s government continues to tighten its oversight of the crypto sector, aligning with global efforts to regulate digital assets. The removal of exchange apps from major app stores reflects a concerted effort to bring offshore platforms into compliance with local regulations. As the regulatory landscape evolves, crypto exchanges face increasing pressure to adapt to the changing environment, while traders navigate uncertainties and seek secure alternatives within the regulated space.
Disclaimer: This blog has been written exclusively for educational purposes. The securities mentioned are only examples and not recommendations. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making related decisions