Indian mainstream media outlets, including The Times of India and India Today, have begun to extensively cover Bitcoin amid the ongoing crackdown on gold holdings and importation. Some news networks have also expressed their optimism towards the increasing demand for Bitcoin as it is helping the government realize its failing initiative.
To the credit of the Indian government, the confiscation, restriction and ban on the importation of gold and the demonetization of banknotes were imposed for the purpose of decreasing criminal activities within India. The initial thought process behind Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in implementing heavy capital controls was that if authorities restrict the flow of money for criminals, it would decrease criminal activities within the country.
However, Modi’s government forgot one important detail - the general population is using the same form of money as the criminals.
Mainstream media coverage
Inevitably, as analysts and experts predicted, the demonetization of banknotes and confiscation of gold led to drastic and negative changes to the economy. People started to wait in line for days to obtain cash, with some people even dying of exhaustion.
The situation worsened when the central bank of India announced new banknotes only to realize that 65 percent of the ATMs within the country cannot support the new sizes of banknotes. At the moment, only 35 percent of the ATMs within the country are functioning.
As the Indian economy and financial system turned into turmoil, Indian mainstream media outlets and networks developed an increasing awareness towards Bitcoin. The Times of India and other outlets released segments on Bitcoin, introducing the digital currency to the mainstream population. With gold holdings being threatened by the government, analysts and media outlets began to speculate that Bitcoin could replace gold and perform as an alternative to cash in India.
Media outlets are starting to talk about BItcoin in India following the demonetisation crisis and increasing gold confiscations. pic.twitter.com/csYWpcqRh2— ฿tcDrak (@btcdrak) December 8, 2016
More importantly, the extensive coverage on Bitcoin provided by mainstream media outlets led to a surge in demand for Bitcoin. Sunny Ray, president and co-founder of India’s leading exchange Unocoin, stated in an interview that Bitcoin trading had doubled since the announcement of demonetization.
DailyO, a media outlet operated by India Today, also reported that Bitcoin queries increased by 20 to 30 percent over the past week. DailyO also confirmed that Zebpay, another wallet operator in India, had seen a rapid increase in its user base.
As the mainstream media states, Bitcoin is gradually transforming into a safe haven asset in India by replacing gold. As the Indian population develops an increasing awareness towards Bitcoin, it is likely that Bitcoin trading will drastically increase over the next few months.