The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has amended its monetary regulations to make Bitcoin and similar virtual currencies illegal. In an announcement revealed today – it is now illegal to issue, supply or otherwise use Bitcoin because it has been designated as an illegal means of payment. The SBV notice clarified that the only officially accepted means of payment in Vietnam are checks, payment orders, payment orders, collection orders, bank cards as well as any other payment instruments approved by the State Bank. The move against cryptocurrencies follows similar bans on centralized virtual currencies, often used for gaming or gambling, as well.
While no other altcoins like ZCash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and others are specifically named, it’s pretty clear that Vietnam is also considering these other cryptocurrencies to be illegal means of payment, as well. What’s the penalty for using illegal means of payment? 150 million to 200 million VN – which translates to roughly $9,000 USD.
Editor’s Note: Dominik Weil from the bitcoin.vn has said that the ruling has been misunderstood:
In short: All status quo. You are not supposed to offer goods/services in other means than VND – same rules apply e.g. for USD/Gold etc. Reason for the announcement now is the the news from the day before, that FPT university planned to start accepting BTC for tution fees. Since those news got covered in all major VN media – SBV saw themselves forced to react with a clarification on the matter. Offering goods & services in VN needs to be done for VND. Status of Cryptocurrency Regulation in VN remains unchanged.
Vietnam: $9,000 fine for using cryptocurrency
The Vietnamese site that published the news about he update to Article 206 – nld.com.vn – is a state owned and operated media operation. So the rule has already been decreed – there is no comment period here.
“From 1-1-2018, the act of issuing, supplying and using illegal means of payment (including bitcoin and other similar virtual currency) may be subject to prosecution in accordance with the provisions of clause 1 (h) of Article 206 of the Penal Code 2015 (as amended and supplemented in 2017).”
“As such, Bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies are not legal means of payment in Vietnam. The issuance, supply, use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currency as a means of payment is prohibited in Vietnam.”
It isn’t yet clear if the declaration that virtual currencies are illegal means of payment affect the use of Bitcoin and similar currencies as a form of investment. Does the prohibition of issuing and supplying of Bitcoin also mean that mining is illegal in Vietnam? It’s entirely possible. Until the first user, or company, is fined for breaking this new decree, we won’t know exactly. However, don’t be surprised if other countries also decree that Bitcoin isn’t a legal means of payment as the fiat status quo continues to be disrupted. That means that virtual currencies have successfully ruffled some feathers and that they, the governments, have moved on from ignoring us to fighting us – and the next step is simply that we win.