Vietnam is taking a hard line on crypto currencies. Photo: istockphoto.com

Asia remains the beating heart of the crypto and blockchain industry. Four of the top five largest exchanges in the world are based there and more than 50% of global crypto trade happens in only a couple of Asian countries.

The region also has some very autocratic governments and not all are in favor of this embryonic form of currency.

Vietnam is the latest to join the likes of China in imposing heavy-handed restrictions on crypto mining, more specifically hardware imports. The Ministry of Finance has proposed the suspension of importing Bitcoin mining equipment, citing that the practice is “difficult to manage by authorities.”

Local media went on to state that the underlying concern was the procurement of cryptocurrencies which violated current laws: “From there, it is easy for people to use [crypto-currencies] as a currency or another method of payment. This is in violation of the amended government Decree 101 on non-cash payments.”

According to domestic news site Zing.vn, Vietnamese customs recorded the import of more than 10,000 mining machines into the country in 2017 and say more than 6,300 mining rigs have been imported during the first four months of this year. The government is using a high profile fraud case in which more than $650 million was illicitly extracted from over 32,000 victims from dodgy crypto investment funds by a Ho Chi Minh City-based company as the reason for the crackdown.

Crypto transactions are now illegal in Vietnam and mining them using high powered computer hardware is about to be outlawed. Beijing has also placed heavy restrictions on crypto mining, which has forced many of China’s mines – that are some of the largest mining farms on the planet – to set up operations in friendlier countries such as Canada.

In a related development, Vietnamese lawmakers are also mulling a new cybersecurity law to “deal with public security concerns.” The bill will give more control to government against local users posting anti-government propaganda and defamatory and slanderous content. If passed, the law will enable the Ministry of Information and Communications, and Vietnam’s Ministry of Security, to demand social media platforms remove content they deem “inappropriate.”

A number of Vietnamese bloggers have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for posting anti-government content. Similar action has been taken in Thailand, where a military junta continues to hold a tight grip over the country and its information and communications systems four years after seizing power. Thailand remains on the fence with its stance on crypto as proposed harsh taxation measures on crypto trading have yet to be implemented, though the internet remains heavily censored in the Kingdom.

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