I2C Credit Economy May 2024 Banner

Google Follows Apple in Yanking Crypto Apps in India

Google has removed several cryptocurrency platforms from its Indian Play store.

The removal, as reported Saturday (Jan. 13) by TechCrunch, involves crypto giants including Binance and Kraken, and follows a similar move last week by Apple

The move comes amid a crackdown on digital asset companies by the Indian government. Late last month, the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit India announced it was planning to block the URLs of nine offshore virtual digital asset service providers, saying these companies were not complying with India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The TechCrunch report noted that India’s 30% capital gains tax and a 1% transaction levy that went into effect in 2022 have led several local crypto traders to move to global platforms with less strict know-your-customer (KYC) rules.

The report said these tougher regulations, combined with a wider downturn in the crypto market, led to a 97% two-year decline in trading activity on India’s WazirX exchange.

The news follows recent reports that crypto exchanges and FinTechs were fined $5.8 billion in 2023 for insufficient financial controls, making last year the first time penalties against these firms exceed those against traditional finance companies.

“The fines were for things like failure to conduct proper money laundering measures or customer checks, as well as other financial crime-related issues,” PYMNTS wrote. “Meanwhile, traditional financial services companies paid $835 million in fines last year, the lowest figure in a decade.”

Amid those troubles, the year 2023 ended up being a challenging time for crypto startups trying to raise funds.

Venture capital investment in the sector totaled just $9.5 billion during the year, less than a third of the prior year’s total.

The fourth quarter of last year was especially rough for many crypto startups, with high-profile cases of fraud and money laundering taking their toll on the industry. 

For example, FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted of multiple fraud charges in November, the same month that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to violating anti-money laundering requirements.

These events coincided with a downturn in crypto venture funding, which plunged to $1.8 billion during the fourth quarter, half of what it was in 2022.