Google removed Binance and offshore crypto apps from Play Store.

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Google removed Binance and offshore crypto apps from Play Store.
  • By Shreya Shrivastava
  • 16th January, 2024
  • Banking

n the final days of December 2023, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Indian Finance Ministry took a significant step by issuing show cause notices to nine offshore cryptocurrency exchanges, including prominent names like Binance and Kraken. Allegations against these exchanges included engaging in unauthorized operations within India. The fallout from these notices has extended to major app distribution platforms, as both Google and Apple have subsequently removed several cryptocurrency exchange apps from their respective Play Store and App Store in India.

Background: FIU’s Show Cause Notices:

The FIU’s show cause notices were a response to suspected violations of Indian anti-money laundering regulations by the identified exchanges. The exchanges implicated in the notices include Binance, Kucoin, Huobi, Kraken,, Bittrex, Bitstamp, MEXC Global, and Bitfenex. The FIU, acting under Section 13 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA), issued compliance notices as part of its efforts to ensure adherence to regulatory standards.

The key issue at hand is the compliance of virtual digital asset service providers (VDA SPs) with Indian regulations. The FIU, responsible for enforcing anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism frameworks, emphasized that all entities dealing with virtual digital assets, irrespective of their geographical location, must officially register with FIU India as ‘Reporting Entities.’ The registration process involves complying with the specific requirements outlined in the PMLA of 2002.

Compliance Obligations for VDA SPs:

Entities offering services related to virtual digital assets, such as virtual digital asset-to-fiat currency exchanges, transfers of virtual digital assets, safekeeping or administration of virtual digital assets, or enabling control over virtual digital assets, fall under the regulatory purview. As of the communication from the FIU, 31 VDA SPs have successfully registered with FIU India, indicating a degree of industry compliance.

However, the FIU noted that several foreign entities, including some of the aforementioned exchanges, despite catering to a substantial user base in India, have evaded registration. This evasion puts them in non-compliance with the Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) framework, prompting the issuance of show cause notices.

Google’s Response: App Removal from Play Store:

In response to the FIU’s actions, Google took a significant step by removing the apps of the identified cryptocurrency exchanges from its Play Store in India. This move is consistent with Google’s commitment to regulatory compliance and user safety. The removal implies that users in India can no longer download or access these cryptocurrency exchange apps through the official Google Play Store platform.

Google’s decision aligns with its responsibility to ensure that the apps available on its platform adhere to local regulations. The company has previously demonstrated a willingness to cooperate with regulatory bodies worldwide to address concerns related to financial transactions and user protection within its digital ecosystem.

Apple’s Corresponding Action: App Removal from App Store:

Following Google’s actions, Apple, another major player in the app distribution market, also removed the identified cryptocurrency exchange apps from its App Store in India. This dual response from both major app platforms further underscores the gravity of the regulatory concerns raised by the Indian authorities regarding these offshore cryptocurrency exchanges.

Apple, like Google, has a stringent review process for apps available on its platform to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. The removal of these apps from the App Store implies a unified stance by major tech companies in support of regulatory measures aimed at safeguarding users and maintaining the integrity of financial transactions within their respective ecosystems.

The Impact on Users and the Cryptocurrency Market:

The removal of these cryptocurrency exchange apps from both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store has a direct impact on users who relied on these platforms for trading and investment activities. Users are now compelled to explore alternative means to access these services, such as using web platforms or seeking out other available apps that remain unaffected by the regulatory actions.

For the cryptocurrency market, especially the exchanges in question, this development represents a significant hurdle. The loss of visibility and accessibility on major app stores limits their outreach to potential users, affecting user acquisition and engagement. Additionally, the market sentiment may be influenced by the regulatory scrutiny, potentially leading to increased caution among users and investors.

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The Indian government’s approach, as reflected in the FIU’s actions and subsequent app removals by Google and Apple, signals a commitment to enforcing regulatory frameworks governing the cryptocurrency space. The focus on anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism regulations underscores the government’s concerns about potential illicit activities and financial risks associated with unregulated cryptocurrency operations.

The implications of these actions extend beyond the immediate consequences for the affected exchanges. They set a precedent for how governments may collaborate with major tech companies to regulate the cryptocurrency space, reinforcing the need for exchanges to proactively engage with regulatory authorities and comply with established norms.


The recent developments involving the FIU’s show cause notices, subsequent app removals by Google and Apple, and the broader implications for the cryptocurrency market in India highlight the evolving regulatory landscape. As the cryptocurrency industry continues to grow, regulatory bodies globally are taking proactive measures to address potential risks and ensure compliance with existing financial frameworks.

The actions taken by the Indian authorities and major tech companies serve as a reminder to cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers about the importance of regulatory adherence. Going forward, industry participants will likely face increased scrutiny, emphasizing the need for collaboration between the cryptocurrency sector and regulatory bodies to establish a framework that balances innovation with financial integrity and user protection.

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