The healthcare industry has always been the first to adopt new technologies and focus on innovation to improve clinical treatments. Innovation in patient care continues to be a top priority, but the industry is falling behind in using technology solutions for day-to-day operations and financial procedures. However, the use of digital technologies and blockchain technology to improve end-to-end healthcare operations has increased significantly over the past few years.
With the digital transformation, blockchain-based crypto is no longer just a buzzword. It becomes an important financial asset. Globally, India ranks second in terms of crypto adoption and the number of crypto users across the country continues to grow. While crypto is primarily for investment and trading, crypto assets, especially Bitcoin, are being used as a new payment method across the world.
Crypto emerges as a new era payment mechanism
Over the past few years, crypto payments for goods and services have gained momentum. It is becoming a modern means of payment on a global scale. Unlike traditional payment mechanisms, crypto payments enable 24/7 access and immediate transactions without borders. This has generated massive interest from the financial services industry. In fact, leading companies like Starbucks, PayPal, Microsoft, and Burger King, to name a few, have started accepting crypto payments in different parts of the world.
Despite the rapid adoption of bitcoin payments by various multinationals, some industries, including healthcare, remain reluctant. This is driven by the financial ambiguity surrounding crypto assets. Additionally, crypto as a new payment method has seen a slump in India over the past year.
The Current State of Crypto-Related Regulatory Arbitrage in India
The growing popularity of Bitcoin has resulted in the creation of over 18,000 new crypto assets. Since its introduction in the financial markets, there has been a debate on whether it should be classified as an asset, a stock or a commodity. While US regulators have branded crypto-assets as Bitcoin a commodity, its entity remains ambiguous in India. Almost all crypto payments were frozen across India last year when United Payments Interface, a central bank’s entity system, claimed it was unaware of the use of cryptography for peer-to-peer, interbank, and person-to-merchant transactions. This turned out to be a blow to companies supporting crypto payments.
Additionally, the RBI has expressed concerns about crypto over the years due to its lack of legal status. On the other hand, the government has hinted at the classification of cryptocurrency several times. In fact, the Minister of Finance has stated that the government intends to levy a tax on crypto transactions. With no clear regulations on crypto payments, there is still ambiguity about this.
The road ahead
Crypto, especially Bitcoin, is quickly becoming an accepted method of payment around the world. Although the RBI or NCPI have not issued an official statement regarding its legal status, institutional participation in the cryptocurrency has been affected. In recent years, the healthcare industry in India has embraced various forms of digital payment. However, the industry has yet to accept the new crypto payment method. As we move forward, the use of Bitcoin and other crypto-assets for financial transactions will primarily be governed by RBI regulations.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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