Interviews 26 January 2018CoinGeek
Oscar Darmawan: Anyone can use Bitcoin in Indonesia, but not as payment
The ever-expanding market for cryptocurrencies has been variously called a fever by analysts. CoinGeek.com caught up with Oscar Darmawan, CEO of Bitcoin Indonesia, to check the temperature for crypto in the country.
As co-founder and CEO of Bitcoin Indonesia, Oscar Darmawan’s work in the cryptocurrency space is strategically positioned. His intimate knowledge of the market and how to straddle the tightrope between corporate vision and government regulation plays well for Indonesian crypto enthusiasts.
Asked about the status of cryptocurrency market in his country, Darmawan was quick to the numbers, saying: “Currently we have about 550,000 members registered in our site, and actually number of members that register in our site day by day is increasing quite a lot, around 200 new members has joined in our system.”
As the saying goes, it’s the numbers that speak. Indonesia’s burgeoning cryptocurrency scene has attracted investors from both within the country as well as its neighboring economies. Darmawan attributes this sudden surge in popular interest for cryptocurrencies in Indonesia to Japan’s decision to allow cryptos for payments last year.
“I think because Bitcoin is lately being legalized by the Japanese, and in many other countries or so, recognized as currency,” he said. “People in Indonesia want to catch up with this technology, because we have 260 million of people, that’s why a lot potential market in here.”
Darmawan believes the Indonesian demographic is particularly poised to adapt to cryptocurrency businesses because of their innate curiosity. “Many of them want to know, ‘What is virtual currency? What is all this issue about?’ So many of them register in our site, says they are going to take a look, want to see, how this technology actually works.”
Government regulation plays a critical role in any emerging cryptocurrency market. In Indonesia, Darmawan said its their own government that poses the greatest challenge to the crypto scene.
“They did not define clearly bitcoin or cryptocurrency as currency or commodity,” said Darmawan, adding that “[they] are actually having quite a big challenge because currency and commodity have different regulators. So from our company, we try to follow Indonesian regulation but if we don’t know who is our regulator they’re also another challenge.”
Recent moves by the Indonesian government to distinguish between the use cases of cryptocurrency have led to a gap in the market. Occupying a strategic position for the crypto space means a sense of corporate responsibility for Bitcoin Indonesia, which represents and connects majority of users in the Indonesian crypto market. Asked about his firm’s relationship with the country’s government, Darmawan said: “Of course all industries agree about regulation in cryptocurrency. I believe that for the business to go really big, we need to follow and support our government.”
The growth of the cryptocurrency business in the country hasn’t gone unchecked by its authorities. The Central Bank of Indonesia has recently pursued crackdowns on the use of cryptocurrency as payment solutions. Darmawan, however, clarified that Bitcoin is not prohibited in Indonesia, as long as it’s not used as an alternative payment method.
“As long as it’s not for payment, and people are using it for R & D or people are just buying it for asset like gold, there is no issue,” he said.
The Indonesian cryptocurrency market is alive and well despite regulations on its use as a mode of payment. Further development for the space is anticipated as major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin Cash have made waves across Asia, despite severe regulation in countries like South Korea.
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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