The State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) has announced a ban on the use of cryptocurrencies as well as fines and possible prosecution for violators. On October 28, the state-owned newspaper Người Lao Động, which translates to “The Laborer,” reported that the measures would go into effect on January 1, 2018.
Under the proposed changes to the country’s legal code, those caught using bitcoin, which the article mentions by name, or other cryptocurrencies as a means of payment will be subject to a fine ranging from 150 to 200 million đong, equivalent to roughly $6,600 to $8,800 at time of press. According to a translation, the Laborer warned that the acts of “issuing, supplying and using” cryptocurrency will be grounds for prosecution, without clarifying what specific charges or penalties violators might face. The choice to include the issuance of digital assets in the list of prohibited activities would seemingly empower the Vietnamese government to intervene in attempts to conduct token offerings.
The article points out that a variety of non-cash instruments will still be legal to use, including checks, bank cards, and other means of payment that are condoned by the SBV.
The announcement comes nearly a full year after several Vietnamese government ministries were reportedly weighing the possibility of legalizing cryptocurrencies by 2018. As far back as 2014, however, the SBV had urged citizens to avoid using virtual currencies.