Virtual currency has created a new stir in the news reports with the growing popularity of bitcoins. RBI in December 2013 had released press release cautioning people dealing in virtual currencies that these currencies may pose several risks and that these aren’t authorised by the RBI.
Virtual currencies are relatively new concept but have been in existence for a while now. Numbers indicate that there are 93 virtual currencies in circulation over the internet, at present and the total valuation is around USD 13 billion with bitcoins alone accounting for valuation of USD 9 billion.
Virtual currencies are de-nationalised and are not backed by any asset. The very uniqueness of these currencies has become the eye candy with evangelists and also a cause of concern for regulators and economists across the world. Some economists like Alan Greenspan are calling it a speculative bubble, some are speculating that virtual currencies may hold long term promise as a more efficient payment system and some are calling it the third era of currency in human history. Some of the countries have banned virtual currencies for instance Argentina, France and Russia, some have expressed reservations like Thailand, China and India and some have clearly accepted them like Canada and Germany.
RBI also has been constantly sending sensors that it is examining the issues associated with the usage, holding and trading of virtual currencies and as to how it fit into the extant regulatory framework of the country. Surely the enthusiasts are keenly looking forward to RBI’s stand on the virtual currencies and surely if accepted will open up a new world of virtual currencies, efficient payment system and make the world smaller than what possible it already is!
 RBI’s press release cautioning users of virtual currencies against the risks, 24th December, 2013, http://rbi.org.in/scripts/BS_PressReleaseDisplay.aspx?prid=30247