Bitcoin continues to grow in Vietnam with last week's launch of the country's first live open-order book trading bitcoin exchange, VBTC.
The new company is the result of an international merger between the operators of Vietnam's first bitcoin broker exchange BitcoinVietnam, and Israeli exchange technology startup Bit2C Ltd. Other team members hail from Germany, Singapore and the US.
CEO of Bitcoin Vietnam Co. Ltd., Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong, told CoinDesk the Southeast Asian region had seen rapid grown in bitcoin infrastructure in the past months, with the Philippines probably leading the way. She stated:
"It is time for Vietnam to catch up in order not to miss out this upcoming technological mega-trend. There is a strong wish in the leadership of our country, to establish Vietnam as a kind of technology hub in South East Asia."
She added that the team's international composition and focus will help it bring the most cutting-edge bitcoin technology to Vietnam, which also has an active tech startup scene. VBTC's predecessor BitcoinVietnam.com.vn is also continuing to do business as a fixed-price brokerage.
Bit2C sees promise in Vietnam
VBTC's Israeli partner Bit2C Ltd. was founded in 2012 and also operates a digital currency exchange platform in its homeland, which it says is its largest trading community.
As part of an ongoing partnership with Bitcoin Vietnam and desire to prove its technology in overseas markets, the company also supplied the underlying system for the initial BitcoinVietnam.com.vn exchange.
Eli Bejerano, CEO of Bit2C, said:
"We believe bitcoin represents a revolution in international trade and commerce and are very excited to see our technology playing role in promoting the adoption of bitcoin. Especially in the vibrant and fast-growing Vietnamese economy."
What VBTC offers
The company says despite a lack of existing regulation it will still comply with internationally common know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) measures in preparation for the future. This is technically not required yet, but authorities are known to be paying close attention to bitcoin business activities.
Other features of the new exchange include:
- An extensive affiliate program
- Bitcoin/litecoin trading with a 0% trading fee
- Multisig wallets as well as Bit2C's own cold storage technology to protect the majority of users' funds
- Trading fees ranging from 0.25% to 0.5% (depending on trading volume).
Questions remain about legality
The launch comes amid scattered reports the Vietnamese authorities remain skeptical about digital currency. The country's central bank released an initial warning in February and has followed up with repeated statements that bitcoin and other digital currencies are not legal tender or a permitted means of payment in Vietnam.
It is not unusual for domestic bitcoin businesses to receive visits from the authorities asking questions and requesting documentation. Those businesses remain undeterred, however, saying they always anticipated such curiosity.
Vietnam's developing economy "offers fertile ground to bring bitcoin on a broader level to the local market", a VBTC representative added.
VBTC would instead prefer to continue its dialog with the Department of Public Security to explain the exact nature of the business, and how the new technology can benefit everyday consumers and spur increased economic activity.
Other businesses joining in
Other digital currency brokerage platforms also exist in Vietnam, including Coinomat and Muabitcoin, providing competition and demonstrating the local scene (in a similar fashion to China's) is more complicated than it appears on the surface.
Coinomat is not a fully open book exchange, instead fixing its bitcoin price every 30 minutes. The company says it has been in touch with government officials and also follows compliance procedures, but does not exchange bitcoin into local currency directly as part of its service. Instead, it uses local payment companies like Webmoney and Sohapay.
A representative said the company explained bitcoin to its contacts as "virtual money", similar to items available for sale in video games.