Bitcoin ATM startup in Bengaluru detained, co-founder held

Bitcoin ATM startup in Bengaluru detained, co-founder held
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Highlights

Harish BV, from Tumakuru and cofounder of Unocoin Technologies, Rajajinagar, functioned the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road The kiosk facilitated cryptocurrency dealsCentral Crime Branch agents 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 18 lakh

BENGALURU: Harish BV, from Tumakuru and co-founder of Unocoin Technologies, Rajajinagar, functioned the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on Old Airport Road. The kiosk facilitated cryptocurrency deals.Central Crime Branch agents 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. He was arrested here on Tuesday for running India’s first bitcoin ATM kiosk, which police called illegal as it had been set up without records.

Harish was produced before the I additional chief metropolitan magistrate court which directed him to police custody for seven days. Cops said more arrests are likely.According to police, the kiosk was a platform for bitcoin buyers and sellers. Police requested public not to be seduced by the prospect of making huge profits and invest money in cryptocurrencies.

“The reason for panic is because of fake videos on Kannada and English channels. Due to this, our kiosk is not operational. We’ve been trying to actively to get these videos pulled down,” said Sathvik.

Unocoin co-founder Sathvik Viswanath defended his company’s business model, saying it’s perfectly legal for Indians to buy, own or sell bitcoins. “We got a lot of bad press after the finance minister announced a ban in February 2018. The minister’s statement was clear: Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India. He did not say ‘illegal tender’. There’s a huge difference. It means you bear the risk of your investment and there’s no regulation for the industry,” he said.In his 2018-19 budget speech, Arun Jaitley had said, “The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take measures to eliminate use of these crypto assets in financing illegitimate activities.”

The ATM in Bengaluru was not functional. “A few mainstream media reports projected it in a negative light. The machine is still under final testing mode and it’ll be up and running soon. It has been temporarily moved from its original place of installation,” said Unocoin. The Unocoin founder said the mall management became concerned after media reports.

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