After being accused of ceaselessly peddling fake news, NDTV has now been accused of luring its viewers into giving up their jobs and enlisting themselves into trading cryptocurrency, a virtual currency system that many analysts consider to be a more sophisticated version of Ponzi schemes.
NDTV, in its recent production “Coffee and Crypto”, a show in partnership with one of the popular cryptocurrency trade exchanges CoinSwitch, promoted the virtual currency system and urged its viewers to invest in the same by highlighting the story of one crypto trader whom the channel claimed had earned windfall gains through trading in cryptos.
A clip of the show was shared on NDTV’s official Twitter account on December 24. In the video, the host of the show, Sonal Mehrotra Kapoor, goes on to rave about how a cryptocurrency trader, who goes by Twitter handle @MsCryptomom1, went on to make outsize earnings after leaving her job and entering into virtual currency trading full-time.
“Would you quit your job to get into crypto full-time?” Well, Brenda Gentry, (@MsCryptomom1), AKA “Cryptomom”, did just that—and now she makes up to $80,000 a month!” the NDTV tweet said along with the snippet from the show where Kapoor interviewed the said cryptocurrency trader.
NDTV deletes ‘paid tweet’ as netizens slam the channel for promoting Ponzi schemes
While the tweet was posted on December 24 and remained on Twitter for hours, it was abruptly pulled down after social media users pointed out how NDTV had been effectively urging unsuspecting viewers into leaving their gainful employment and pushing them into the uncertain world of gambling and Ponzi schemes.
“Please don’t peddle such narratives. Very dangerous,” tweeted a user who goes by Twitter handle @GabbbarSingh.
Please don’t peddle such narratives. Very dangerous. https://t.co/e9bo6JUQWR
— Gabbbar (@GabbbarSingh) December 27, 2021
Author Harsh Madhusudhan also slammed the channel for encouraging people to leave their jobs for what he termed as “some pie in the sky quasi-Ponzi scheme.” Referring to CoinSwitch, Harsh asked, “How much did NDTV’s ‘partner’ pay for this plug?”. He also opined that SEBI, RBI, MoF and MoIB should investigate and have norms for such funding.
Remarkable journalistic “ethics”. You are encouraging people to leave their jobs for some pie in the sky quasi-Ponzi scheme.
How much did NDTV’s ‘partner’ pay for this plug? I think SEBI, RBI, MoF and MoIB should investigate – and have norms around transparency for such funding. https://t.co/eSpmXNGsS2
— Harsh Madhusudan (@harshmadhusudan) December 27, 2021
Others too slammed NDTV and its journalists for spurring people on to a dangerous path, asking how much the news channel got from its partner to such brazenly promote cryptocurrency.
Shameful tweet deleted. That’s the journalistic ethics of NDTV. They are promoting/encouraging people to leave jobs and jump into ponzi scams of crypto. Kitna cut mila NDTV ko? https://t.co/DyUPocwL89
— Gaurav Argade (@gaurav_argade) December 27, 2021
Though the ‘paid tweet’ was deleted by NDTV, the video of the entire show is still present on its YouTube channel.
Cryptocurrency exchanges up their PR campaign amidst uncertainty of their future in India
NDTV’s seemingly paid promotional campaign for cryptocurrency comes in the wake of an intensified PR campaign headed by various cryptocurrency trade exchanges as the Supreme Court and the Central government mulled over the decision of banning them or bringing in some kind of regulation to supervise the virtual currency system in the country.
As their fate hangs in balance, cryptocurrency exchanges currently active in the country have upped their PR campaign. They have been vigorously promoting themselves, sending out a message that their trade exchanges are completely safe, widely used and secure for investments. Notable personalities such as Ayushmann Khurrana, Amitabh Bachchan, Ranveer Singh, Janhavi Kapoor, Disha Patani and other actors have been roped in by various crypto exchanges to get more customers on their platform and possibly use them as leverage to influence the Centre and the top court’s stance on the matter.
Even though cryptocurrency companies paint a rosy picture of themselves, it is worth noting that investing in virtual currency is fraught with danger as fluctuations in cryptos are quite frequent and massive, capable of completely annihilating the hard-earned savings of investors. There are several challenges cryptocurrency poses, some of which are listed below.
Challenges posed by cryptocurrencies
Banks have been reluctant to let their customers deal with cryptocurrencies due to the uncertainty regarding the legitimacy of the virtual currency market. That concern among banks was somewhat assuaged after the RBI asked banks not to cite its 2018 order as a reason to deny banking services to customers who dealt in cryptocurrencies. RBI had stated that their 2018 order had been set aside by the Supreme Court of India.
In its April 2018 order, RBI had directed banks to make sure customers dealing in cryptocurrencies were not allowed access to banking services.
However, despite the apex court’s softened stance on cryptocurrencies, challenges still exist. One of the major concerns that have a significant impact legitimising the digital currency system is the volatility in several cryptocurrencies. Over the past several months, cryptocurrencies have proven to be extremely volatile, engendering concerns of wealth erosion and other risks involved in the trading of digital currencies.
The illicit use of cryptocurrencies by criminals, most notably hackers and extortionists, have also sparked concerns among Indian authorities regarding its exploitation by offenders. The inherently decentralised nature that makes it difficult for government authorities to regulate has also added to the concern about cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency transactions are normally irreversible. In many of the transactions after a number of blocks, the transaction is confirmed. Therefore, if fraud is committed, it would be practically impossible to reverse the transaction. The lack of control over cryptocurrencies would mean the government will not be able to address the grievances of victims.
Traditional financial products usually have strong consumer protections. However, if any cryptocurrency is lost or stolen there is no intermediary with the power to limit consumer losses.
This is one of the reasons why not just the Indian government but governments of other countries have also taken a cautious approach towards cryptocurrencies, fearing their lack of central control and the ramifications they could have on the financial security of the country.
Other arguments that challenge the viability of cryptos include the security risk they entail, along with the lack of solution when it comes to ensuring its effective inheritance. There are also misgivings about possible asset bubbles around such currencies due to over-leveraging with possible newer types of derived products.