Vietnam Exchange Adds Bitcoin Wallet with Off-Chain Transactions

Jon Southurst
Sep 23, 2014 at 14:52 UTC
Updated Sep 24, 2014 at 06:03 UTC

Saigon skyline

Vietnam’s premier exchange Bitcoin Vietnam Co Ltd has added wallet functionality in a bid to make storage simpler and encourage day-to-day digital currency spending in the country.

Notably, users of Bitcoin Vietnam Wallet will be able to send bitcoins to others on the platform in instant ‘off-chain’ transactions using recipients’ bitcoin or email addresses. Off-chain transactions occur near instantly, outside the bitcoin block chain with its delayed confirmation times.

Users will also be able to sell the bitcoins in their wallets directly on the Bitcoin Vietnam exchange, without needing to switch between them.

Empowering product

Wallets are secured with mandatory two-factor authentication with a multi-level storage system that keeps a certain percentage in cold storage.

Bitcoin Vietnam CEO Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong said the wallet would help empower Vietnam’s economic players with their “specific needs”, describing the country as one of the world’s most ambitious emerging markets with a very young workforce.

There is “palpable economic progress every year,” she added.

“The high-tech startup scene may be – compared internationally – still in its beginnings, but especially in a city like Saigon you can grasp this terrific spirit of optimism and the will to overcome the still existent shortcomings in our society through technological innovation and entrepreneurial spirit.”

COO Dominik Weil said it was sometimes daunting for newcomers to bitcoin to understand the basics of secure storage, something that needs to be overcome before new users even consider exchanges. Bitcoin Vietnam’s wallet, he continued, seeks to lower the entrance hurdle. He also noted that a wallet has been one of the features most commonly requested by users.

Weil told CoinDesk that Vietnam has several specific conditions that could make bitcoin’s success easier there. 45% of the population is under 25, the country’s middle class is expanding and growing wealthier every year, and use of technologies like smartphones is growing exponentially.

“Electronic payments are still a problem (if people purchase online, they often still have to wire the money via a bank transfer which they initiate locally at their bank branch) credit card fraud is the highest in the region… it is a country that still lacks a lot of infrastructure – but on the other hand, the development is crazily fast and you can observe change here on a monthly basis. People want to catch up with the world and innovation gets adopted into daily life pretty fast.”

Asian societies were in general hungrier for development and change, and thus offered a better environment for entrepreneurs looking to execute ideas, he added.

Building a bitcoin economy

Bitcoin in Vietnam is still in relative infancy, and its local infrastructure is not yet as sophisticated as more economically liberal countries. So far, only a few local companies and brick-and-mortar traders have started accepting the digital currency for payments.

However, thanks to a combined effort involving locals and entrepreneurs from countries like Germany, Israel and Singapore, Vietnam still has a choice of international-standard cryptocurrency services and a live open-book exchange called VBTC – which is also operated by Bitcoin Vietnam Co Ltd.

Despite an uncertain start, Vietnam’s regulators have also made progress with bitcoin in recent months. The State Bank of Vietnam is currently working in cooperation with the relevant unit of the Department of Public Security to define appropriate regulations for bitcoin usage.

Bitcoin Vietnam Co Ltd and VBTC have also participated in discussions with the authorities. Furthermore, formation of a local chapter of the international Bitcoin Foundation is planned in the near future.

Bitcoin Vietnam launched in March this year with a fixed-price bitcoin brokerage, and has expanded since then. Its services are available in Vietnamese, English and German.

Saigon image via Shutterstock