Vietnam bans Bitcoin as payment for anything

What is it with (mostly) single party states and crimps on cryptocurrency?

The State Bank of Vietman has issued “Information related to the use of virtual currency” that bans use of the cryptocurrency for payments.

It won't say why, and doesn't explicitly ban mining or blockchain.

The Bank lists conventional payment mechanisms like cheques, payment orders and credit cards as permitted, but then adds (after translation) that “Bitcoin virtual currency and other similar is 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.”

Fines of around US$9,000 apply to those who accept or offer payments in virtual currencies.

Why the Bank decided to make the statement is unclear, but it's not hard to guess why: Vietnam's government is a little like China's in that it permits private enterprise but remains a single-party communist state. Virtual currencies' represent a threat to command economies that such regimes find hard to tolerate, as China's shuttering of Bitcoin exchanges and Russia's attempts to do likewise demonstrate.

The ban does not, however, mention mining or exchange of virtual currencies, leaving open the possibility that Vietnam will permit cryptocurrency-or-blockchain-related activity. So long as they're not used to buy and sell stuff.

Vietnam's trying to reform its economy, is already winning manufacturing work from China and attracting considerable foreign investment. It's not hard to imagine blockchain making a splash there, even if Bitcoin is banished from commerce. ®

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