Vietnamese authorities have announced that they are investigating establishments that accept bitcoin for payments. This follows reports that restaurants and cafes are still accepting the digital currency despite the government warning that bitcoin is not a legal means of payment in Vietnam.
Investigating Bitcoin-Accepting Merchants
Despite the State Bank of Vietnam warning that bitcoin is not a legal means of payment, the digital currency is still being used to pay for goods and services in the country, Vnexpress reported last week.
Citing that several coffee shops and restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are still accepting bitcoin for payments, the publication quoted an official of the central bank saying:
“Authorities in Ho Chi Minh City will be working with the country’s central bank to ‘handle violations’ at several restaurants and coffee shops in the city that have been accepting bitcoin as payment… We have also asked the city’s police department to work with us.”
In October, news.Bitcoin.com reported on the Vietnamese central bank announcing that it had completed the legal framework for digital currencies in Vietnam. While bitcoin itself is not banned, using it as a means of payment in the country could result in a fine between 150 million to 200 million dong (~USD8,800). “From January 1, 2018, the act of issuing, supplying or using illegal means of payment may be subject to prosecution in accordance with the provisions of Article 206 of the Penal Code 2015,” according to the bank’s announcement.
Bitcoin Uses Continue
A survey by Infonet found 4 bitcoin ATMs (BTMs) in Vietnam, 24h newspaper reported. All of them are located in Ho Chi Minh City and are also listed on the BTM tracking website Coinatmradar.
One machine is located inside a coffee shop at the corner of Ly Tu Trong – Cach Mang Thang Tam in District 1. The establishment revealed to the publication, “Every day there are dozens of visitors buying bitcoin through the machine located in the store.” Both the number of customers using the BTM and the number paying with bitcoin at the store are growing, the publication noted, adding that:
“At some cafes in the center of District 1, despite the [sign saying] “Bitcoin Payments Are Not Accepted,” they are in demand from customers (Vietnamese and foreigners), [and] the staff is still handling [it].”
Growing Number of Market Participants and Miners
According to Bitcoin Vietnam’s Nguyen Viet Bach, the number of bitcoin market participants in the country has increased from 30,000 in 2016 to 60,000 this year, Soha reported.
In addition, the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Bureau has received applications to import 1,478 mining rigs during the 10 months ending in October. “Even a high-end jewelry company located in Ho Chi Minh City has filed the import declaration for 100 Bitmain mining rigs from China with an estimated total value of $129,000,” the publication wrote.