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India's First Bitcoin ATM Seized, Owner Arrested for 'Illegal' Kiosk

Thirty-seven-year-old Harish BV, who is from Tumakuru in Bengaluru and is the co-founder of Unocoin Technologies, operated the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road.


Updated:October 24, 2018, 11:46 PM IST

New Delhi: A man was arrested for running India’s first bitcoin ATM kiosk after police investigations revealed that it had been set up without approvals.

Thirty-seven-year-old Harish BV, who is from Tumakuru in Bengaluru and is the co-founder of Unocoin Technologies, operated the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road.

According to a Times of India report, investigators from central crime branch seized a teller machine, two laptops, a mobile, three credit cards, five debit cards, a passport, five seals of Unocoin Company, a cryptocurrency device and Rs 1.8 lakh.

After being produced before a court, Harish was sent to police custody for seven days. Police said more arrests are likely and made an appeal to the public to not fall for the alluring prospect of making huge profits by investing in cryptocurrencies.

However, Unocoin co-founder Sathvik Viswanath has defended his company’s business model, saying it’s perfectly legal for Indians to buy, own or sell bitcoins.

In February, the Union government gave directions to prevent banks from trading in cryptocurrency. However, Unocoin Technologies Private Ltd went ahead and set up India’s first ATM kiosk to trade in cryptocurrencies in Bengaluru.

In defence to the move, Vishwanath had said in a statement mentioned on the official website that the notice issued by the finance ministry on cryptocurrencies does not talk about “the legality of cryptocurrencies as such and hence the legality status of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in India remain unchanged. This decision of RBI was more in line with its earlier statements on the risk associated with the cryptos.”

Unocoin’s automated teller machine was the first-of-its-kind in the country. It has both a trading and exchange platform and allowed verified customers to use the device. The kiosk was accessible only to the registered customers of Unocoin.

Customers were able to buy or sell up to 10 Bitcoins a day. However, all transactions were made in Indian rupees only, after which they could be exchanged into a currency of the consumer's choice

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| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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