Bitcoin News: #Bitcoin banned in Thailand

One Bitcoin now worth $101.94. High $102.85. Low $98.45

Thai central bank rules Bitcoin to be illegal

Is this the start of a slippery slope? for Bitcoin? Bitcoin Co. Ltd is reporting on their blog, that the Thai authorities have ruled that Bitcoin activities are illegal in the country, which has the knockon effect of forcing them to cease operations. As far as Thailand is concerned it is now illegal to buy and sell bitcoins, and it gives them the dubious distinction of being the first country to do so. A bit heavyhanded of a reaction I think, in response to a popular alternative currency, but this event could perhaps be the start of Bitcoin’s biggest challenge, if other countries decide to follow suit.

What is sad about this case, is that Bitcoin Co, was trying to do the right thing in terms of being compliant.

Bitcoin currency

The Bitcoin Co team, previously spent several months trying to register with various government agencies in Thailand, and on July 29 held a conference with some government officials explaining what Bitcoin is and how it works. About 15 officials from the Bank of Thailand attended.

“During the past several months Bitcoin Co. Ltd., in Thailand, has been in the process of registering with the various Thai government agencies in order to operate in a lawful manner.  Included in this due diligence was to reach out to the Bank of Thailand, the governing body that regulates financial transactions in Thailand, and ask for guidance as to any applicable licenses in buying and selling bitcoins”.

“At the conclusion of the meeting senior members of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department advised that due to lack of existing applicable laws, capital controls and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets the following Bitcoin activities are illegal in Thailand”:

  • Buying Bitcoins
  • Selling Bitcoins
  • Buying any goods or services in exchange for Bitcoins
  • Selling any goods or services for Bitcoins
  • Sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand
  • Receiving Bitcoins from anyone located outside of Thailand
 Daniel Stuckey writing for motherboard offers some tips for possible Thai bitcoin workarounds:

“If you still want to use Bitcoin, I’d sell for Thai baht and keep things as word-of-mouth as possible. If you really need to bring your bitcoins back into fiat, and there are a lot, you might cross the border. Head for Cambodia or China and exchange in a country that hasn’t dismissed the beleaguered cryptocurrency yet. If you’re going to use other Thai exchanges, which seem to have not shut down yet (maybe they haven’t heard the news?), I’d be extra careful”.

I supect that this move to curtail Bitcoin in Thailand might be doomed to fail, after all bitcoin is virtual and anonymous, it was designed to be the underdog from the outset. Joel Bowman writing for The Daily Reckoning theorizes that bitcoin’s future doesn’t depend on State legitimacy or low-cost sanctioned transactions:

In the end, bitcoin is a bet on the other side of The State’s coin; the free market side. It’s a bet that voluntary trade will, in the end, overcome neanderthalic force and coercion. It’s a wager that the conversation currently underway in the shadowy ‘black’ market is far more intriguing, far more complex, far more nuanced and exceedingly more interesting than the yip-yapping that distracts the undead, mainstream TV-consumer for an hour or so around feeding time every evening.

Do you think other countries will follow suit? Do you think bitcoin will survive this latest setback?