Bitcoin goes live in Vietnam despite government concerns

Pic: AP.

Vietnam’s first online Bitcoin trading floor has gone live, allowing customers to buy and sell Bitcoins in Vietnamese dong.

VBTC came into existence through the merger of Vietnamese Bitcoin broker exchange, BitcoinVietnam, and an Israeli Bitcoin exchange called Bit2C Ltd. VBTC originally intended to go live three months ago but was delayed due to technical reasons.

In recent years Bitcoin has seen strong growth across Southeast Asia.  CEO of BitcoinVietnam, Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong, has stated that “it is time for Vietnam to catch up in order not to miss out [on] this upcoming technological mega-trend. There is a strong wish in the leadership of our country, to establish Vietnam as a kind of technology hub in Southeast Asia.”

According to VBTC’s website, the company provides three main services:

  • Bitcoin Vietnam Broker Service;
  • Bitcoin Exchange VBTC; and
  • Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet (for smartphone users to send and receive Bitcoin).

It appears to be relatively easy to begin trading on VBTC. First you must join the site, next deposit funds in your online account, these funds must then be verified before trading can begin.  The whole process takes about two days.

The Vietnamese government remains unconvinced about the utility of Bitcoin. Earlier in the year, the country’s central bank released a warning about the digital currency and has issued further statements saying that Bitcoin is not a recognized currency or a means of payment in Vietnam.

However, the government has stopped short of outright calling Bitcoin illegal. In the wake of government uncertainty, a number of businesses in Vietnam have begun accepting the digital currency as a form of payment for their goods.

Rumors abound that government officials have pledged to immediately shut down VBTC and arrest all of its workers. However, as of now this has not happened.  CEO Phuong has stated publicly that he is actively trying to work with government officials to assuage their concerns and ensure that his website’s service is uninterrupted.

At the time of this writing, on the VBTC website Bitcoin was selling at VND12 million.