Ho Chi Minh City requests police intervention in bitcoin payment

Vietnam’s cryptocurrency market remains active despite a recent ban  

A woman accesses her account on a bitcoin ATM in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee has required municipal police step in and tighten their grip over payment in bitcoin to ensure order in the local currency market.

Tran Vinh Tuyen, deputy chair of the local People’s Committee, has demanded cooperation from the city’s police department and competent agencies in investigating transactions with the digital money and preventing investors and enthusiasts from engaging in the outlawed activity.

The move was meant to ensure security and order in currency activity and minimize consequences incurred by individuals and enterprises pending an official legal framework that would allow the government to better manage the cryptocurrency, Tuyen said.  

The amended Vietnamese Penal Code, taking effect on January 1, 2018, criminalizes the issuance, supply and usage of cryptocurrency, a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security.

Those who break this rule will be subject to criminal charges.

The People’s Committee also requested that the Ho Chi Minh City branch of the State Bank of Vietnam work closely with inspectors to keep the increasing use of the digital money in check.

Apart from providing counseling for the People’s Committee in devising timely legal revisions on the management of virtual assets and digital money, the Ho Chi Minh City branch was also required to raise public awareness of the risks involved in the use of these modes of payment.   

City leaders have tasked the local Department of Industry, Department of Health, Department of Tourism and Department of Education and Training with closely overseeing payment by suppliers in their areas and joining hands with relevant agencies to detect infringements and penalize violators.

In October, the State Bank, which is Vietnam’s central bank, outlawed bitcoin, saying those breaking this rule would be subject to fines or even criminal charges.

This decision followed an announcement by a local university that it would accept bitcoin in tuition payment.

Outlawing the supply and use of bitcoin, however, has failed to stop investors and enthusiasts from actively engaging in trade and transactions with the cryptocurrency.

As of October 31, the Ho Chi Minh City customs department had received clearance applications for the importation of 1,478 bitcoin mining machines by local companies and individuals.

The number soared to 7,005 in mid-December.

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