According to the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), the issuance, supplement and use of bitcoin and other similar virtual currencies for legal payment is prohibited in Việt Nam.
A man uses a Bitcoin ATM in HCM City. — Photo tuoitre.vn
In a statement released on October 28, the SBV affirmed its implementation of the Prime Minister’s direction to develop and improve a legal framework to regulate virtual currency’s status among a list of acknowledged, legal and cashless means of payment.
The SBV has finalised and submitted this framework on cryptocurrency to the Government through Decree 80/2016/ND-CP, amending and supplementing some articles of the previous Decree 101/2014/ND-CP on non-cash payment, as well as promulgating Decree 96/2014/ND-CP on administrative fines in monetary and banking activities.
Accordingly, Article 4 of Decree No. 101/2012/ND-CP on non-cash payment, amended and supplemented under Decree No. 80/2016/ND-CP, stipulates that non-cash payment instruments include checks, bank cards and other instruments as prescribed by the SBV, while the illegal means of payment are those other than that specified in the article.
Regarding sanctions for any violations in the financial and banking sector of the aforementioned legal provisions, Article 27 of Decree No. 96/2014/NĐ-CP states that the acts of issuing, supplying and using illegal means of payment will be subjected to an administrative fine between VNĐ150 million and VNĐ200 million (US$6,700 and $8,900).
As of January 1, 2018, these acts may be subjected to criminal prosecution, in accordance with Article 206 of the Penal Code 2015, amended and supplemented in 2017.
On October 26, the FPT University released an announcement on their Facebook page, in which students at the university were allowed to pay tuition fees using bitcoin, as they considered it a viable solution, especially for their foreign students.
This sparked a public debate, with some arguing that the FPT University’s acceptance of bitcoin was a breakthrough, while others expressed concern about the coin being a virtual currency not regulated by the state.
In response to this, representatives of the SBV stated that if the FPT University continued to treat bitcoin as a legal means of payment, then it would be committing an act of violation under the current law provisions, and may subject the university to the appropriate sanction.
Back in July 2017, the SBV sent out a document clearly stating its non-involvement in managing cryptocurrency on the Vietnamese financial market, and that the acts of initial coin offering, generating and using such cryptocurrency as a means of payment in place of legal tenders were all prohibited with established sanctions.
The SBV stated that such prohibition was to keep investors safe against the coin’s speculative nature.