Despite repeated statements from central bank representatives that bitcoin remains illegal in Vietnam, the country has a flourishing bitcoin ecosystem including exchanges, miners, and a few merchants.
Now one of Vietnam's state-owned TV networks, VTV1, has broadcast an informative report on bitcoin and interviewed some of its main local identities.
The programme also featured an interview with a State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) official who said the bank does not view bitcoin as money or a legal method of payment. He reportedly also said, however, that he reads the Bitcoin Vietnam blog and is trying to learn more about the cryptocurrency.
See the video of the VTV1 report below (the bitcoin segment begins at the 14:30 mark.)
Curious about bitcoin
Weil said the report showed people were still genuinely interested in hearing more. The reporter's questions focused mainly on bitcoin's current legal status in Vietnam, its potential use by criminals, the advantages of using bitcoin, and where he saw bitcoin, both in Vietnam and globally, within the next few years.
He told CoinDesk he welcomed the opportunity to practice explaining bitcoin to the uninitiated, saying:
The local media "went crazy" after Bitcoin Vietnam sent out a simple press release, he said. Bitcoin and his company also featured in major national economic newspapers and "basically every tech-related website out there".
Conditions are changing
This is all just a step away from the concerns surrounding Bitcoin Vietnam's release of its open-book trading exchange VBTC just a month ago, when one central bank official called for bitcoin business operators to be arrested.
The company, and other similar ones, have tried to maintain open communication with officials to prevent such a crisis, and, in the end, no such arrests occurred.
They also hint that large government institutions in countries like Vietnam and China contain a range of opinions on how to approach bitcoin. Even so, digital currency operations continued to grow despite adverse statements.
Crypto scene larger than it looks
Weil said that regulatory uncertainty probably meant there was a lot more interest and activity surrounding cryptocurrencies in Vietnam than it appeared. As well as bitcoin mining facilities, the community was also embracing Jed McCaleb's new 'stellar' protocol.
Statistics reveal Vietnam ranked third in the world for visits to the stellar website, after the US and Indonesia.
"The volume of the underground bitcoin trading market is probably close to two orders of magnitude higher than on our public platform so far," he added.
Video and image via YouTube
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