A man who ran India’s first bitcoin ATM has been arrested by police in Bangalore.
The ATM kiosk had been installed last week aiming to bypass the Reserve Bank of India ban on banks from dealing with cryptocurrency firms.
The 37-year-old Unocoin Technologies co-founder, Harish BV, was arrested on Tuesday as the police said the ATM was illegal as he had not acquired the necessary permissions.
Harish had installed the kiosk at Kemp Fort Mall on the city’s Old Airport Road with his partner Sathvik Viswanath.
The kiosk facilitated cryptocurrency deals, according to the Times of India.
Legal or Illegal
A teller machine, two laptops, three credit cards, a mobile phone, five debit cards, a passport, a cryptocurrency device, five seals of Unocoin company, and cash was seized by the Central Crime Branch,
They said in a statement, “The ATM kiosk installed by Unocoin in Bengaluru’s Kempfort Mall has not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law.”
After a court appearance, Harish BV was placed in police custody for seven days.
Police said that more arrests are likely.
They say the kiosk was a platform for bitcoin buyers and sellers and requested the public to not be lured by prospects of making money and not to invest in bitcoin.
Sathvik Viswanath, Co-founder of Unocoin, told the newspaper that it is perfectly legal for Indians to buy and sell bitcoin.
He said that they got a lot of bad press after the Finance Minister announced a ban in February 2018.
He also said that the minister’s statement was clear, that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in India, but did not say that it was “illegal tender”.
Viswanath said that there was a huge difference, and what the minister meant was that you bear the risk of your investment and there is no regulation in the industry. Unocoin was planning to install similar ATM kiosks in Mumbai and Delhi.
The company said it had moved the ATM temporarily and blamed negative media reports for the police action.
“Our Machine didn’t go well with few mainstream media reports who projected it under a negative light,” Unocoin said in a tweet.
Our Machine didn't go well with few mainstream media reports who projected it under a negative light. The machine is still under final testing mode and it will be up and running in the upcoming week. The machine has been temporarily moved from its original place of installation.
— Unocoin (@Unocoin) October 20, 2018