New Delhi: HDFC Bank has joined the list of banks that have stalled transactions involving cryptocurrencies. The bank has disallowed its customers from buying Bitcoins, cryptocurrencies, and virtual currencies through the bank's credit, debit and prepaid cards.
In a circular to the HDFC Bank customers, it said: "You may be aware of the increasing global apprehensions regarding Bitcoins, cryptocurrencies, and virtual currencies. The Reserve Bank of India has also cautioned the public regarding the potential economic, operational, legal and security-related risks associated in dealing with such currencies." "To ensure our customer's security, we have decided to not permit usage of HDFC Bank Credit, Debit and Prepaid Cards towards purchase or trading of such Bitcoins, cryptocurrencies, and virtual currencies, on merchants suspected to be dealing in cryptocurrency or online foreign exchange trading or both," the circular added.
The RBI also clarified that they have not provided any authorization or license to anyone to operate such schemes or deal with cryptocurrency. Earlier in mid-February, Citi Bank had banned its customers from buying cryptocurrencies using credit and debit cards. It said in an email circular: "Given concerns, both globally and locally including from the Reserve Bank of India, cautioning members of the public regarding the potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks associated in dealing with bitcoins, cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies, Citi India has decided to not permit usage of its credit and debit cards towards purchase or trading of such bitcoins, cryptocurrencies and virtual currencies."
Payment companies Visa and MasterCard have not disallowed cryptocurrency payments. However, they continue to be cautious about it. "Issuers make authorization decisions and apply their own risk policies when evaluating each authorization request," a Visa spokesperson said. During the Union Budget 2018 speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also made it quite evident that cryptocurrency is considered illegal by the government. "The Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system," he said.