Singaporean operators of a live-streaming service could face stern penalities from Vietnamese authorities over the transfer of virtual assets that can be exchanged into real money.
During an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Sunday, Le Quang Tu Do, deputy chief of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said that Bigo Live showed signs of online trade, which is against Vietnamese law.
The social media platform has been allowing its users to purchase virtual diamonds priced at VND22,000 (approximately US$1) to VND2 million ($89.5), with payments being made with Visa and Master cards. The virtual assets can be used to buy several icons included in the app, whose costs are between one and 3,000 diamonds, or be accumulated and later exchanged into real money.
By running the service, the app developers have violated regulations on the management of Internet services and online information stipulated by the Vietnamese government and the Ministry of Information and Communications.
The Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information has sent a letter to Bigo Live operators to work on the issue, Do said, before adding that the developers had previously refused to cooperate with local authorities. “If the developers continue to ignore our request, the case will be transferred to police. If they try to avoid their administrative liability, criminal charges will then be considered,” the official asserted.
On Sunday, the app was still operating normally, as observed byTuoi Tre reporters.
Bigo Live had already sparked concern amongst the public after many local users took advantage of the live-streaming service tobroadcast explicit content and images of themselves.
Ethan Van, marketing executive of Bigo Live in Vietnam, said that the social media platform was intended to become an online trade channel in the near future, allowing Vietnamese users to carry out payments via the app.