JioCoin: Reliance planning own cryptocurrency, Akash Ambani to lead project

Reliance Jio is planning to create a cryptocurrency of its own called ‘JioCoin’, and will put together a young team of 50-odd professionals under Akash Ambani to kickstart the project, a Livemint report claims. The Ambani scion is reportedly interested in developing blockchain technology to aid the development of smart contacts and cryptocurrency payment-enabled supply chains.

Blockchain is a digital ledger that works as a book-keeper for cryptocurrencies.

‘Jio’ a leap into Reliance’s future?

Reliance Jio has disrupted India’s telecom sector in the past year-and-a-half by offering services at hyper-competitive prices, forcing other telcos to follow suit.

Reliance Industries, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate that holds Jio is reportedly mulling an IPO in late 2018 or early 2019. The group has already pumped in $31 billion worth of investment in Jio.

The Livemint report quoted a Jio official as saying that the company aspires to get into the Internet-of-things business and blockchain technology is supposed to help its foray.

IoT is technology that allows physical objects like wearable technology, smartphones, other electronic devices to be connected. From smart cities to driverless cars and smart factories, and smart homes the Internet of Things is supposed to enter every aspect of people’s lives.

Reliance celebrated forty years of its existence a couple of weeks back, where Mukesh Ambani’s children- Aakash, Isha, Anant were projected as the petrochemical behemoth’s next-generation leaders.

Mukesh Ambani earlier said that group would take big leaps in the digital services sector. The Reliance group has changed its core business quite a few times over the decades- from dealing in spices to exporting textiles, to becoming a petrochemical behemoth and now disrupting the telecom sector.

Regulatory hurdles?

However, it would be interesting to see how the country’s financial mandarins warm up to the idea.

In December last year, the Reserve Bank of India had cautioned “users, holders and traders” of Bitcoins about the security-related risks associated with dealing in such virtual currencies, as reported by Business Standard. “In the wake of a significant spurt in the valuation of many VCs and rapid growth in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), RBI reiterates the concerns,” the central bank said in a statement.

Last year, The Income Tax Department had conducted survey operations at major Bitcoin exchanges across the country on suspicion of alleged tax evasion, as reported earlier by the Business Standard.

The chairman of India’s capital markets regulator, Ajay Tyagi, had earlier said that the Sebi, the RBI and the government were locked in a huddle to determine the legal oversight for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.