A Thai bitcoin exchange has suspended trading alleging that the Bank of Thailand has declared the cryptocurrency illegal, throwing the community into heated debate.
Bitcoin Co Ltd, a Thai exchange, posted a note on its website saying that the Bank of Thailand held a conference earlier today to discuss the exchange's business operations.
"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," says the post. It outlined the purchase or sale of bitcoins themselves as illegal, alongside the buying and selling of goods or services in exchange for bitcoins. Sending or receiving bitcoins to or from anyone outside Thailand would also be illegal.
"Based on such a broad and encompassing advisement, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. therefore has no choice but to suspend operations until such as time that the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existance of Bitcoin," the exchange said.
Debate heated up on the online forums, with some agreeing with the statement, and some arguing that senior officials at a bank agreeing on something doesn't make it law.
"Bitcoin was not ruled illegal in Thailand. There is poor reporting and interpretation going on. The Bank of Thailand has no legal power," said one commenter.
"When a senior official at a central bank tells you point-blank, 'buying or selling bitcoins is illegal', unless you have a seriously large legal fund and willing to fight all the way to the constitutional courts if necessary, you take it seriously," said another. "They made no comment about these laws (or lack of laws) being enforced; so I would assume the blackmarket will still operate business-as-usual"
The Bank of Thailand's New York office refused to comment on the issue when contacted today.