A Bitcoin-tea controversy is brewing in India.
The country’s Commerce Ministry and Tea Board is now looking into a group of tea growers and exporters who are selling their products online to US customers for Bitcoins.
The Hindu Business Line, in a courageous piece of adversarial journalism, notes that tea growers and exporters are using “digital currency Bitcoin as a means of expanding their international business, bypassing the normal banking channels and thus depriving the Exchequer of revenue.”
According to a representative from one of the companies, writing in the story’s comments section, payment to Indian tea growers in Bitcoin has only been explored up to this point.
“[W]e have only started to build the infrastructure to do work in Bitcoin,” the post reads. “No one has broken any laws, the Ministry has only asked the Tea Board for comments on this. We have learned that it may not be possible.”
The Hindu Business Times’ article estimates a price of about 11 USD per 15 grams of tea. Any shipments via international courier below 4 kilograms is not subject to surveillance or monitoring. Thus, 3 kilograms of tea (about 2100 USD at the quoted market rate) can slip out of India with no one aware, and the exporter can be compensated pseudonymously in a Bitcoin equivalent.
The Indian government, not known for its friendly stance on Bitcoin, may not be willing to let its tea exporters use the digital currency for such payments.
A question for our readers: How would you feel about tea growers in your country exporting their harvests this way? Is this “depriving exchequers of revenue?”