Two Indian-origin Singaporean blockchain entrepreneurs, who spent a whopping USD 69.3 million in cryptocurrency for purchasing a digital artwork recently, have urged the Indian government to not ban the virtual currencies, arguing that these can be an “equalising power” between the West and the rest of the world.
Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of their units and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.
Vignesh Sundaresan, an entrepreneur, coder and angel investor in blockchain technologies whose pseudonym is Metakovan, and his friend Anand Venkateswaran, a former journalist, who goes by the name Twobadour, had caused a stir in the art world following the USD 69.3 million (Rs 5,02,06,04,820) acquisition of the landmark work by digital artist Beeple at a Christie’s auction on March 11.
The two — who are originally from Tamil Nadu — run Metapurse, which claims to be the world’s largest non-fungible token (NFT) fund.
An NFT uses the same technology behind cryptocurrencies to turn anything from art to sports trading cards into virtual collector’s items that cannot be duplicated.
Sundaresan and Venkateswaran revealed their names in an article on Metapurse’s Substack account following the deal, the Straits Times reported last week.
“The point was to show Indians and people of colour that they too could be patrons, that crypto was an equalising power between the West and the Rest, and that the global south was rising,” the Singapore-based newspaper quoted the duo as saying.
Sundaresan, the chief financier of Metapurse, said, “There are countries like India that are thinking of banning crypto. If my story can inspire someone, and (have them) say, ‘Let’s not ban crypto,’ I would be happy to reveal myself for that.
“People should know that we are not doing something nefarious. That should reach people, and not the controversies and random speculations if people don’t know who’s behind all this. That’s the reason I really wanted to come out.”
Earlier this month, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said the government is still formulating its opinion on cryptocurrencies and will take a calibrated position.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das had said the apex bank has certain “major concerns” over the impact cryptocurrencies may have on the financial stability in the economy and has conveyed the same to the government.
The RBI had virtually banned cryptocurrency trading in 2018 and had directed all entities regulated by the central bank to cease dealing in virtual currencies.
India’s Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has recently amended various rules under the companies law pertaining to audit, auditors and accounts. As per the new norms, companies will now be required to disclose their dealings in crypto currencies, with the government putting in place stricter disclosure requirements to enhance transparency.
Sundaresan paid for the artwork using Ether, the world’s second biggest digital coin after Bitcoin. Christie’s auction house had said the work was sold to a Singapore buyer who goes by the name Metakovan, but did not reveal his real name.
The record-smashing artwork, ‘Everydays:The First 5,000 Days’, is a virtual collage of 5,000 images by an artist called Beeple, who is also known as Mike Winkelmann.