In an ill- researched segment on Bitcoin, an Indian private media outlet aired a ‘sting’ operation video titled Bitcoin Scam: Online Money Laundering Racket Exposed In Sting Video. The video shows touts willing to launder black money following the demonitisation drive by the Indian Government.
The touts/brokers in the video are shown to be assuring the investments in bitcoin against the revoked fiat money. The video in vague terms paints Bitcoin as the dark internet secret which is inherently evil and tags the entire cryptocurrency and blockchain community as the “online black bazaar where operatives of bitcoins in India converts black money to white in the dark cyber world.”
The news segment lacks clarity and basic research on the subject of cryptocurrency. It plays upon people’s ignorance regarding Bitcoin and makes it out into a bogeyman that needs to be shoved back into the supposed dark recesses of the internet.What it further does is that it creates a sense of mass hysteria against a futuristic technology which if utilized well, can ease India’s movement towards being a cashless economy.
Contrary to what this particular news segment tells, each and every Bitcoin transaction is traceable as it is recorded in a public ledger. Therefore, easily accessible to the government.
Zebpay, the Bitcoin exchange mentioned in the video by one of the touts to launder money, rather believes that Bitcoin is a great answer to the shadow economy. They further add that digital currency solves a lot of the problems mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It solves the problem of fake currency.
Moreover, they also dispute the claim made in the video that no customer identification is required to make Bitcoin transactions. According to Zebpay, the system to record every transaction taking place via Bitcoin in a public ledger was designed so that transactions could be verified, and to keep double-spending under check.
Most importantly, to buy bitcoins, customers are required to give their bank account details and undergo a know-your-customer (KYC) process.
Is Bitcoin traceable? – This Quora thread further explains how it is virtually impossible to make untraceable transactions via a major exchange like Zebpay.
So, the negative portrayal of Bitcoin as the currency for malpractices reeks of ignorance. Even countries like Russia and China which started off as Bitcoin -averse nations have now warmed up to its idea.
Also not all Indian media is ignorant to Bitcoin’s benefits. Following on the heels of demonitisation, Bitcoin has gained considerable traction in India and even the media is taking note of its functionality, like this one.