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Google Removes Cryptocurrency Apps in India Following Apple’s Lead

Google has removed several cryptocurrency-related applications from its Play Store in India, following Apple’s similar actions. The move comes in response to warning notices sent by the Indian finance ministry to nine virtual digital assets (VDAs) service providers last month, citing potential violations of the country’s anti-money laundering regulations. Apple had earlier removed major offshore crypto exchanges like Binance, Kucoin, and OKX from its App Store in India.

The removals, affecting high-profile applications such as Binance, Kucoin, Houbi, Kraken, Gate.io, Bittrex, Bitstamp, MEXC Global, and Bitfinex, are related to alleged irregularities in operation without proper registration and adherence to local tax laws. The finance ministry had urged the Information Technology Ministry to block the URLs of these exchange websites, suspecting them to be channels for money laundering activities.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) executed these app removals on Dec. 28 after issuing show-cause notices. Google’s decision aligns with efforts to ensure adherence to policy standards, and it follows concerns raised by the finance ministry’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) about the potential misuse of these apps in money laundering schemes.

Binance, one of the affected platforms, reassured users that existing app users would not be impacted and pledged to work with regulators to resolve the situation.

The finance ministry clarified that both offshore and onshore VDA service providers in India must register with FIU-India and conform to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The FIU plays a key role in identifying and communicating information about suspicious financial transactions.

The removal of these cryptocurrency applications from Google and Apple app stores underscores the tech giants’ readiness to comply with regulatory concerns. This move aligns with the finance ministry’s directive to limit access to these apps and URLs, emphasizing the importance for companies dealing in virtual digital assets to adhere to local regulations and address potential illicit activities proactively.

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