India's Reliance Jio Plans To Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency

There is some interesting news related to cryptocurrencies coming in from India. Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited is planning its own cryptocurrency, dubbed as JioCoin. Reliance Jio has been instrumental in changing the landscape of India’s telecom sector with its discount offers and very competitive tariffs.

Reliance Industries Limited is a Fortune 500 company and the largest private sector corporation in India. 

According to a recent news report, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd plans to create its own cryptocurrency, JioCoin. “The company plans to hire 50 young professionals with average age of 25 years for Akash Ambani to lead. There are multiple applications of blockchain (for the company). The team would work on various blockchain products.”

Akash Ambani is the son of Reliance Jio chair Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man whose net worth reportedly tops $40 billion.

A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Constantly growing as "completed" blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order. It allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. 

Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is the most popular application of the blockchain technology. In fact, it is bitcoin which introduced blockchain to the world. Reliance Jio plans to introduce its own cryptocurrency. In the present time, there are more than 1,000 cryptocurrencies with a combined market capitalization of almost $700 billion, with bitcoin dominating 43%.

This project is in line with Reliance Jio's mission wherein it “promises to shape the future of India by providing end-to-end digital solutions for businesses, institutions and households and seamlessly bridging the rural-urban divide.”

India has seen a phenomenal rise in interest among its people for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the past year. The country offers the perfect conditions for adoption of such technology. India is the home to the second-largest population (1.2 billion) in the world with 63% of its population under age 35. This, when combined with the fast-growing smartphone and internet penetration amid a digital revolution, makes India a fertile land for innovative digital technology.

While the young and tech-savvy people in India are interested in indulging in these emerging technologies, the stance of the government currently continues to be cautious.

In December 2017, the Reserve Bank of India reinstated its cautious stance towards bitcoin and virtual currencies. The apex bank issued the first of such note in December 2013. In February 2017, it clarified that it has not given any licence or authorisation to any entity or company to operate such schemes or deal with bitcoin or any virtual currency.

In January 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jailey said, “The government is examining the matter. A Committee under the chairship of the Economic Affairs Department Secretary is deliberating over all issues related to cryptocurrencies to propose specific actions to be taken... Instead of taking any knee-jerk action, let's wait for the report of this committee.”

While regulatory ambiguity continues, some of the biggest banks in the country, including State Bank of India and ICICI Bank, have been experimenting on the use-cases of blockchain.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein.

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