Daily Editorial Analysis for 23rd December 2022

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Virtual Digital Assets (VDA) and Terror Financing

GS Paper: 3- Money-Laundering & Its Prevention

Important for

Prelims exam: Virtual Digital Assets (VDA)

Mains exam: Virtual Digital Assets (VDA) and Terror Financing


The 93 participating countries in the No Money for Terror meeting, which was organized by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, agreed to stop financing terrorism in any way, including by using cutting-edge digital tools like Virtual Digital Assets (VDA).


Concerns about virtual digital assets

  • VDAs for illicit activities: Concerns about VDAs being used for illegal purposes call for thoughtful legislative answers and futuristic regulatory safeguards.
  • Non-reporting and non-transparency: These issues are fundamentally caused by a lack of reporting and transparency standards as well as a lack of global agreement on regulatory design.
  • Lack of reliable data: The Deputy Director of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) emphasized how challenging it is to regulate VDAs because there is a dearth of accurate data on VDA transactions.
  • Unregulated transactions: The Deputy Director of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) emphasized how challenging it is to regulate VDAs because there is a dearth of accurate data on VDA transactions.


  • Leveraging G20 Presidency: With the G20 presidency now under its belt and being one of the top nations for VDA adoption, India is in a prime position to influence the global regulatory landscape.
  • Empowering anti-money laundering authorities: An effective strategy for India in the short term is to instil trust in the sector and the investor by giving anti-money laundering (AML) authorities access to information about VDA transactions and the authority to impose controls on them and pursue legal action in the case of any misuse.
  • India should adopt FATF guidelines: There are numerous global templates that achieve this. For instance, the EU, Japan, and Singapore have all ratified the Financial Action Task Force Guidelines on Virtual Asset Transactions (FATF Guidelines), which are a set of regulations.


FATF’s guidelines for VDA regulation

  • Minimum anti-money laundering standards: In order to reduce the likelihood of misuse, the FATF mandates minimum anti-money laundering criteria, and the FATF Guidelines specify the same for VDA transactions.
  • Licensing and reporting of VDAs: Members states like India that offer VDA services are subject to the Guidelines. The FATF Guidelines place significant reporting and record-keeping requirements on VDA service providers as well as requiring licences and registrations.
  • Travel rule obligations: One such requirement is the Travel Rule, which mandates that service providers keep a record of every wire transfers’ originator and recipient accounts, transaction amounts, and purposes.
  • Verifying identity above certain threshold: For any transactions over $1,000, the customer is required to exercise due diligence, which includes confirming their identity and that of the beneficiary.
  • Obligation on service provider: When a transaction is made with a higher-risk nation, the FATF Guidelines also call for VDA service providers to carry out enhanced due diligence obligations (like verifying the customer’s identity against a national database or possibly tracking the customer’s IP address to make sure there are no connections to illegal activities).


What are the current VDA laws in India?

  • PMLA includes reporting obligation: These legislative mechanisms are already used to regulate conventional financial institutions in India under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA). Notably, the PMLA includes reporting requirements for international transactions that are covered under the framework’s definition of “suspicious transactions”.
  • PMLA doesn’t apply to VDAs: Currently, the VDA sector is exempt from the PMLA.
  • Government can bring VDA under PMLA: Any “designated business or profession” may be designated by the government as a reporting entity for the purposes of the PMLA, and this designation may include VDA service providers.


  • Indians and digital businesses will soon be able to operate under a cogent set of rights and obligations thanks to the Digital Data Protection Bill and the Digital India Act, both of which are now in the works. The time is right to expand regulatory control over the VDA sector in order to guarantee that technological innovation takes place in an ethical and responsible manner.

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