- Apple removes access to major exchanges from the Indian App Store.
- India’s FIU had previously warned that foreign crypto exchanges were breaching money laundering regulations.
- Domestic crypto exchanges remain unaffected.
Indian authorities are growing increasingly concerned over potential money laundering and terrorist financing enabled by cryptocurrencies. After the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) called for blocking foreign exchange websites last December, Apple has moved to cut access to a raft of major crypto exchange apps from its App Store.
Apple Pulls Plug on Major Crypto Exchange Apps
According to TechCrunch, Apple has removed the apps for major cryptocurrency exchanges Binance, Kraken, Huobi, Gate.io, Bittrex, OKX, Bitfinex, and Bitstamp from its Indian App Store. Additional reports on social media have suggested that the app for the MEXC Global exchange was also removed.
However, the app purge seems limited to global industry players, with India-based exchanges like CoinSwitch, CoinDCX, and WazirX unaffected. CoinSwitch co-founder Ashish Singhal commented that many domestic exchanges comply with money laundering legislation, and foreign exchanges must follow suit if they intend to do business in India.
Google Android users are unaffected, with the respective exchange apps still available through the Play Store. Meanwhile, iOS users who installed the exchange apps before the cull can still use them without any restrictions, per TechCrunch.
Late December 2023 saw India’s FIU issue notices to the blocked foreign exchanges, citing failure to meet registration and compliance requirements.
FIU Sounds Alarm on Non-Compliance
The App Store purge comes less than two weeks after the FIU’s notice of non-compliance to foreign crypto exchanges. The agency alleged that the foreign exchanges had allowed Indian users access to their platforms without following appropriate Know-Your-Customer (KYC) rules or registering with Indian authorities.
While some considered the FIU’s actions a continuation of anti-crypto sentiment by Indian lawmakers, others saw it as a necessary step to legitimizing digital assets in the country. WazirX founder Nischal Shetty took the latter view, commenting that such restrictions were necessary for “greater regulatory clarity and control” and harmonizing rules across different jurisdictions.
On the Flipside
- India has a fractured relationship with cryptocurrency as authorities continue grappling with how best to regulate digital assets.
- Domestic Indian exchanges have experienced a boom in activity following the FIU notice to foreign exchanges.
- This incident highlights the regulatory pressures tech giants like Apple face to comply with local laws, even if they officially maintain neutral policies on cryptocurrency.
Why This Matters
Apple’s recent removal of exchange apps highlights the increasing regulatory efforts to control unregulated cryptocurrency activity. However, resourceful crypto users will always find ways to circumvent bans, meaning India’s approach requires less punitive measures to curb unwanted activities.
Read about Apple’s legal woes over blocking peer-to-peer crypto payments here:
Apple Under Legal Fire for Limiting Crypto P2P Payments
Find out more on Richard Heart’s delayed response to SEC fraud allegations here:
Heart Retaliates Against SEC Fraud Charges Leveled Against Him