Unocoin has been collecting donations for BAI since Unocoin restarted its operations on 8th of Jan 2014. Since the start of January, there has been many developments in the organization structure and creation of governance charter for BAI. As the process is taking longer time than expected, Unocoin had to stop accepting donations for BAI from today 5th of Feb 2014 till further notice. Regarding the donations we have collected till today, it is near to impractical and time consuming to collect all the customer’s account number and refund the donations where many of them are single digit amounts while the number of customers is in couple of hundreds. So CoinMonk Ventures Private Limited has decided to donate the same to a charity possibly the one which may be inclined towards research and innovation. The total amount donated will also include the 0.5% that Unocoin has promised to donate from its profits for every successful trade on Unocoin. More details regarding the total amount, name of charity and an update on the payment will follow once we finalize our accounts of BAI donation collection till now which could take us a couple of days. If you have a suggestion for us regarding to which charity we need to donate, please let us know through Contact Us form or by emailing us. We hope you appreciate our step regarding the same.
While saying that January 2014 was a good month for Unocoin, this letter is also brining some updates
SSL Security: Recently you might have noticed now Unocoin is running under Extended SSL encryption (like online banking where you will see green browser bar) and hence communication between your browser and Unocoin server is secure.
End of Trial mode: We just came off trial mode on today – the Feb 1st. Now we call it as Unocoin is offically launched.
Campaigns: Verified customers who have a lot of bitcoins to buy or to sell can take advantage of this feature where Unocoin itself cannot honor such huge buy or sell. Campaigns usually run for 7 days. Customers who are willing to buy bitcoins need to consider a fixed price per bitcoin for duration of campaign and we list the campaign for them. We will fulfill the order as we continue getting the counter party. The price will also be fixed for the counter party who needs to buy/sell atleast minimum number of bitcoins and this includes the transaction fee and service tax – so the price seen on campaign is what gets paid at the end. Unless the cicumstances really mandate cancelling an ongoing campaign, we do not encourage the customer to cancel the campaign listing as there will be lot of counter parties who will be trying to arrange bitcoins of INR to participate in campaign which is supposed to run for 7 days. How ever also possible that the campaign gets closed as it achieved the goal before 7 days. Listing and participating in campaign is not possible over your account directly. There will be a conversation with customer and the counter-party customers over phone and then the orders will be executed on behalf of customers by Unocoin team.
Merchandize: We have introduced Merchandize section on Unocoin.com where you will be able to buy bitcoin related articles and souvenirs using bitcoins in your Unocoin wallet. The first item available for now is 5X physical bitcoin by CoinMonk that holds 0.01 BTC each and will be shipped to you anywhere in India free of cost. This is a great and sweet way to introduce someone to bitcoins. The product comes with a bitcoin wallet (paper wallet) of its own along with introduction to bitcoin and its advantages in a leaflet nicely packaged that is surely giftable. Check it out. You can reach Merchandize section through the left menu after you login.
BAI and donations: As you know we started collecting donations for BAI. As some people have expressed their willingness to donate more while few have wished to opt out of donations, we have created an option where the user can himself set how much donation they want to pay between 0% and 2%. Visit Settings page under Account-Settings menu to adjust your settings.
Accepting testimonials: Unocoin is accepting testimonials from customers who have done successful transactions. We prefer the testimonial to be with in 2 or 3 sentences. We will be displaying it on the Unocoin website. You can send your testimonial if you are willing to contribute one to [email protected]
Bitcoin Alliance of India (BAI) is a not-for-profit association in India aimed to be “voice of bitcoin in India”. Even though it is an initiative by stakeholders of CoinMonk Ventures Private Limited, it is aimed to become a stand alone and self sustaining body. Lot of other bitcoin traders and bitcoin business/enthusiasts has also expressed their support and are willing to help BAI financially through donations to achieve its goals. You can read about developments of Bitcoin in India since mid-december at a Coindesk article.
BAI just completed a press conference headed by Nishith Desai Associates (NDA), the best legal and auditing firm in India, which has aimed to urge govt to declare that bitcoin is not illegal in India and this request is based on techno-legal analysis done by a Bitcoin practice group at NDA. This press conference did help to restore some reputation of bitcoin in India.
The next plans of BAI and NDA include a presentation to RBI and governing authorities about bitcoin and what possibly can be done to have govt encourage the use of bitcoins in India.
BAI aims to bring lot of other programs that will be beneficial to Indian bitcoin community as a whole in the long run. As BAI is working with the best of the class in every industry as this is not a time to compromise in quality nor take “no” for an answer, BAI is in need of huge funds to support itself and continue to be the voice of bitcoin in India. In an attempt to support BAI, Unocoin by default will be collecting 0.5% of trade value from the customers on every bitcoin buy and sell operations and Unocoin will be matching the same from its profits and hence donate 1% of trade value to BAI. We at Unocoin believe that you as being a valuable and knowledgeable customer will appreciate our efforts, love India more than you love Bitcoin and finally help India not to lag behind technology.
Addition: You have an option donate up to 2% or even to opt-out of donations by visiting Settings page on Account-settings menu. What ever you opt for, Unocoin will continue to donate 0.5% towards BAI.
– Unocoin Team
After press conference organized by BAI headed by Mr. Nishith Desai, and after the take-aways of the conference are out to public through media, Mr. Nishith Desai has given us a green signal to start Unocoin operations which will be starting on 6th Jan 2014 when the logins will be enabled and Unocoin wallets will be accessible. Buying and selling of bitcoins will go live from 8th of Jan 2014. CoinMonk Ventures and Unocoin is very thankful to Nishith Desai and their team for being a part of press conference and guiding us through till here 🙂
– Unocoin Team
Bitcoins Alliance India (BAI), a community of Bitcoin entrepreneurs, welcomes the RBI warning about the risks surrounding the purchase, sale or use of Bitcoins. In light of the recent events, BAI appointed Nishith Desai Associates, an international Legal and Tax Counsellors, to examine the legality of Bitcoins.
Nishith Desai the Founder and Managing Partner of Nishith Desai Associates clarified that “Our Bitcoins Practice Group examined the issue from techno-legal perspective and have found that Bitcoins per se are not illegal in India. This is in consonance with international approach. US considers Bitcoins as a legitimate payment alternative. US Senate Home Land Security and Government Affairs Committee and the Senate Banking Committee consider that virtual currency has legitimate uses.”
Similar positions have been taken by Canada, the UK, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Australia, Argentina and several others. Monetary Authority of Singapore has stated that whether or not businesses accept Bitcoins in exchange for their goods and services is a commercial decision and it will not interfere with it. China has restricted only financial institutions from dealing directly in Bitcoins without making it illegal.
Bitcoin is cryptographic digital product first described in a 2008 paper by single or group of pseudonymous developer(s) by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto who called it a “peer-to-peer electronic payment system”. Bitcoin creation and transfer is based on open source cryptographic protocol managed in a decentralized manner.
The Bitcoins look like currency or money, but it is not. It sounds similar to security, but it is not. It feels like a derivative or a negotiable instrument, but it is not. It’s not pre-paid instrument either. While in the US, Bitcoins are regarded as a commodity, it is doubtful whether it could be considered so in India as it is an intangible property.
At best it is a combination of protocol, data, and software program stored at multiple locations. When transacted it involves some kind of bartering. If the Bitcoins themselves are sold for a price in terms of ‘money’, Sale of Goods Act would apply but accepting Bitcoins against goods should not attract the provisions of Sale of Goods Act. Provisions of FEMA would not be triggered especially when the transactions are intra-India. Even importation of Bitcoins would be legitimate if transactions are carried out through proper banking channels. In any event as a commercial transaction the provisions of the Indian Contract Act would have to be complied with. Consequently a transaction in relation to Bitcoins must be for lawful consideration and should not be opposed to public policy. However, exporting goods from India against Bitcoins would not be permissible as the proceeds of exports must be repatriated to India in terms of foreign exchange through normal banking channels. Thus Bitcoins per se are not regulated by any authority as it an ‘internet product’ so to say.
It came to us as a bit of surprise that the BAI traders have a stringent KYC (know your client) process which is voluntarily followed by them. It appeared to be similar to the process followed by Indian banks. Further, it has been clarified to us that they would be willing to share all information with regulatory authority in accordance with law.
Whether the Bitcoins can be used for illegal trade is a question often asked. Yes, like any other cash it can be. But the cash is simply not traceable except by catching someone with physical possession. Bitcoins are far more traceable than money especially when traded through Bitcoin traders. BAI is committed to develop further standards of openness and transparency in collaboration with the regulators.
If properly harnessed, Bitcoins in general have number of benefits:
1. Facilitates “financial inclusion” to the poor and unbanked population
2. Significantly reduces transaction costs
3. Enables the growth, ease and security of both ecommerce and physical transactions
BAI urges the government to clarify that the Bitcoins are not illegal per se, however, they are saddled with number of commercial risks including its volatility, loss of hardware, digital wallet, etc.