The Hanoi Department of Industry and Trade has banned organizations and individuals involved in e-commerce businesses in the city from using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to settle transactions online, in a document issued to relevant parties on April 13.
The document cites government decrees on non-cash payment instruments, emphasizing that “the issuance, supply, use of Bitcoin and similar virtual currencies is prohibited in Vietnam.” Violations are subject to a “fine of between VND 150 mln ($6,608) and 200 mln ($8,810) for individuals and organizations.” Furthermore, as of January 2018, issuing and using cryptocurrencies “may be subject to criminal prosecution.”
Crypto-regulatory action in Vietnam intensified last week after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc urged government and financial bodies to tighten their oversight of cryptocurrency-related activities.
The directive followed reports of what could be the largest crypto fraud in history ($658 mln) if proven true, involving the alleged defrauding of 32,000 investors by two ICOs headed by a Vietnam-based outfit. Police are currently investigating the case.
An outright ban on using crypto as a means of payment has been in place in Vietnam since 2017, but the Ministry of Justice is now looking to flesh out a more robust and extensive regulatory framework following the Prime Minister’s orders.