Dismissing worries about unfavorable local policy towards cryptocurrency, a Vietnamese and an Israeli Bitcoin startup have joined forces to launch Vietnam’s first live-trading Bitcoin exchange, proffering the country’s economy as “fertile ground” for local Bitcoin development.
The exchange, VBTC, was founded this spring and launched beta testing last month, but only became available for live public trading from Wednesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, the exchange had already logged 10 trades by four active traders.
The exchange offers both Bitcoin and Litecoin trading and is working with Mycelium to create the Viatnamese version of the popular Bitcoin wallet, which recently launched a paper wallet USB device. The founders said in a press release:
“Vietnam’s fast-developing economy offers fertile ground to bring Bitcoin on a broader level to the local market and enable customers in this emerging nation to have access to reliable and secure state-of-the-art solutions regarding the handling of this new technology.”
Though Vietnam has said it will not officially recognize or regulate Bitcoin, leading many in the media to state the cryptocurrency is functionally illegal, the founders reassured that local government policy will not be a problem for the new exchange.
“Bitcoin usage was never prohibited in Vietnam,” VBTC said in the press release. “In fact, the State Bank of Vietnam is currently looking [for] cooperation with the relevant unit of the Department of Public Security to define applicable regulations for Bitcoin usage in Vietnam.”
Others, however, are less optimistic. “I lived in Vietnam [for] 1.5 years,” venture capital investor Gorka Oscoz Ocio told Cointelegraph. “The country is very corrupted, the businessmen I know like the concept of Bitcoin but Vietnam is a country that still lives in the past, in the feudal times, so very few people can understand [Bitcoin].”
The statement by Vietnam’s central bank last spring is not law and therefore does not carry any official legal weight. But by refusing to recognize Bitcoin as a viable currency, Vietnam joins several other countries in the region with restrictive policies on cryptocurrency, including Indonesia, India, and China.
Still, the exchange’s founders - Israeli Bitcoin startup Bit2C Ltd. and Vietnamese Bitcoin startup VBTC Vietnam Co. – expressed optimism about the future of Bitcoin growth in the region.
“We have seen over the last months a rapid growth of the Bitcoin infrastructure in the ASEAN region,” said Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong, CEO of Bitcoin Vietnam. “It is time for Vietnam to catch up in order not to miss out on this upcoming technological mega-trend. There is a strong wish in the leadership of our country to establish Vietnam as a kind of technology hub in Southeast Asia.”
Bit2C, founded in 2012, runs the first and largest Bitcoin exchange in Israel, while Bitcon Vietnam founded Vietnam’s first registered Bitcoin broker exchange in March, which deals mainly with big Bitcoin buy and sell orders for which VBTC lacks the necessary liquidity.