Nandan Nilekani has called on India to embrace cryptocurrencies as an asset class as authorities around the world grapple with how to adapt to the technology.

The president of Infosys, the consultancy and information technology company, believes that cryptocurrencies are too volatile and energy intensive to be used as a means of payment and considers the Unified Payments Interface digital payment infrastructure in India as more efficient. But he said crypto should be encouraged as an asset to buy and sell, like a commodity.

“Just like you have some of your assets in gold or real estate, you can have some of your assets in crypto,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. “I think crypto has a role to play as a stored value, but certainly not in a transactional sense.”

Nilekani said allowing individuals and businesses to tap the $ 1.5 billion market would allow “crypto specialists to put their wealth into the Indian economy.”

The tech executive has a long history of working with Indian authorities to help shape digital policies, including the Aadhaar biometric identity program. He also chaired a central bank committee on digital payments in 2019.

India is a potentially important market for crypto, but the country’s official position is unclear, with the specter of an outright ban looming despite rising volumes among local traders.

A ban would make India one of the most draconian jurisdictions in the world for digital currencies, as authorities around the world consider how to regulate crypto.

Last year, the Supreme Court of India overturned a 2018 central bank directive cracking down on crypto. But the market continues to operate in a gray area, with some banks recently threatening to take action against crypto traders.

The government said this year it would introduce legislation that should broadly ban private digital currencies in favor of an official central bank coin. Officials have since made more conciliatory statements.

Infosys has enthusiastically embraced the blockchain technology underlying cryptocurrencies as it seeks to offer a growing range of digital tools to its multinational clients.

But India’s IT industry has been hit hard by the country’s fierce second wave of coronavirus, with businesses facing widespread infection among employees and regulators worrying about a possible disruption in back office operations. Nilekani argued that the business impact was limited and cases were now declining.

Nilekani argued that the experience and scale of Infosys – the company has around 250,000 employees – meant it was well positioned to thrive as companies reorganize their internal systems to fit a post routine. -pandemic remote or flexible working.

This includes the request for migration to the cloud. Although Infosys does not usually reveal the identity of its customers, it has made deals with companies such as Daimler, the German automaker and the US investment group Vanguard over the past year.

“I think, frankly, that the opportunities today are better than ever,” said Nilekani. “In the 40 years that I have worked in this industry, I have never seen so much change and acceleration happen. “

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