Business 8 May 2018Dennis Wafula
Gov’t seizes domain name of Vietnam’s oldest crypto exchange
Vietnamese cryptocurrency exchange Bitcoin Vietnam has found itself in trouble with the law after local authorities claimed the company has been “operating a blog without a proper license.”
According to local news, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication has seized Bitcoin Vietnam’s domain name, bitcoin.vn, on grounds that the Ho Chi Minh-based company doesn’t have the license to operate and use the domain name.
In addition to seizing the domain, Vietnam Radio, Television and Electronic Information Department of the Ministry of Information and Communications also slapped Bitcoin Vietnam with two fines totaling up to VND40 million (about $1,758)—VND15 million ($659) for operating an illegal blog and another VND25 million ($1,000) for running an illegal social network.
Bitcoin Vietnam, launched in July 2014, is considered to be the oldest cryptocurrency exchange in Vietnam. The exchange, which is headed by Nyuyeri Tran Bao Phuong, allows Vietnamese residents to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like BTC in the country, while bitcoin.vn enables users to comment on blogs posted on the website. A source told news.bitcoin.com that the website in question posted maximum of two articles a month, which made the domain seizure “a very, very heavy-handed approach.”
The exchange is currently operating under the Bitcoinvn.io domain while the Bitcoin.vn domain is suspended for a period of 45 days. Bitcoin Vietnam has 10 days to appeal the sanctions, which the company said it already did.
There were beliefs that seizing the Bitcoin.vn domain was done to create room for “powerful players” in the domestic cryptocurency exchange market. Others, however, believed that it was high time authorities took actions to control cryptocurrency disasters in the country. In April, 32,000 Vietnamese investors fell victim to a cryptocurrency fraud that led to the loss of VND15 trillion through investments, prompting Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, to sign a directive to help the central bank and the ministry of Finance manage cryptocurrency activities in Vietnam.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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