Vietnam’s central bank has developed a legal framework for cryptocurrencies, following orders by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. According to the pronouncement, Vietnam bans bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a method of payment, from January 1, 2018 onward.
In a newly released notice, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) listed the non-cash payment methods approved by the authority. According to the notice, conventional payment methods such as checks, payment orders and credit cards are permitted, whereas “bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies are not”.
“According to the provisions of the law, bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not lawful 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,” the notice reads.
The ruling does not, however, explicitly ban mining or cryptocurrency exchanges. It remains unclear whether the “issuance and supply” of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies extends to exchanges. Until further notice, cryptocurrency or blockchain related activities are still permitted in Vietnam, as long as they do not involve the use of digital currencies as a method of payment.
“Bitcoin itself is not identified as a banned item,” lawyer Le Cao told Doi Song Phap Luat.
Additionally, the SVB notice addresses the legal consequences faced by cryptocurrency adopters. Use of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as a method of payment may be subject to prosecution. Furthermore, substantial fines apply to those who either offer or accept payments in cryptocurrencies.
As of January 1, 2018, the act of issuing or using an illegal means of payment (including bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies) may be subject to prosecution.
“Use of illegal means of payment (including bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies) will be subject to a fine of between VND 150 million and 200 million [note: approximately $6,600 – $8,800],” the SVB statement reads.
Local experts have weighed in on SVB’s stance. The consensus is that accepting cryptocurrencies as a method of payment would violate the national sovereignty over the issuance of currency, and render the economy very complex, thus difficult to control.
Vietnam bans Bitcoin as payment method – Image source: foureightseven