Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged all countries to ensure that cryptocurrency does not “end up in the wrong hands”. Modi was delivering the keynote address at the Sydney Dialogue, an initiative of Canberra-based think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The prime minister said that democratic countries across the world should recognise each other’s national rights and at the same time promote trade, investment and larger public good among themselves.

“Take crypto-currency or bitcoin for example,” he said. “It is important that all democratic nations work together on this and ensure it does not end up in wrong hands which can spoil our youth.”

Currently, there are no regulations on the use of cryptocurrencies in India. On Monday, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance held its first-ever meeting on cryptocurrencies with industry stakeholders.

The panel, industry associations and experts on crypto finance agreed that the use of cryptocurrencies should not be banned in the country, but it should be regulated. Last week, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das had said that cryptocurrencies could threaten the financial system since they are unregulated by central banks.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also chaired a meeting on the subject.

‘Technology, data becoming new weapons’

In his speech on Thursday, Modi weighed in that technology had become a major instrument of global competition.

“Technology and data are becoming new weapons,” he said. “The biggest strength of democracy is openness. At the same time, we should not allow a few vested interests to misuse this openness.”

The prime minister also highlighted the use of technology in governance in India.

“Recently, we have used technology to deliver over 1.1 billion doses of [coronavirus] vaccines, across India’s vast geography using Arogya Setu and CoWIN platforms,” he noted.

The prime minister observed that the digital age was “changing everything around us”.

“It has redefined politics, economy and society,” Modi said. “It is raising new questions on sovereignty, governance, ethics, law, rights and security. It is reshaping international competition, power and leadership.”