VBTC was jointly founded by VBTC Vietnam Co. Ltd. and Israeli firm Bit2C. Earlier, VBTC was expected to start operations in April. Nguyen Tran Bao Phuong, executive officer of VBTC Vietnam Co. Ltd., said the website was running on a trial version in June before coming online on July 9, allowing unlimited bitcoin trading in Vietnam. Phuong said Vietnam is a promising land for bitcoin development. The company pledges to strictly follow all the rules on the use of the bitcoin in Vietnam.
On the morning of July 16, just a night after tropical storm Typhoon Rammasun (also known by the Philippine name Typhoon Glenda) left swathes of the country in devastation with wind speeds of up to 85 miles per hour, a Philippines company launched a relief campaign. It’s being done with a twist – using bitcoin. People can donate in bitcoin by scanning a QR code on the donations microsite. Then the organizing company sends the collected funds in cash to both the Philippine Red Cross and the ABS-CBN Foundation.
Leading the charge against the cryptocurrency is the country’s central bank. Last we checked, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) was rallying banks and third-party payment providers to prevent funds from flowing to bitcoin exchanges. That includes vouchers, which are sort of like virtual gift cards that can be exchanged for bitcoins. But despite everything that Chinese officials have thrown at it, BTC China CEO Bobby Lee says Bitcoin is still alive and moving forward.
SINGAPORE: A private sector initiative to boost local uptake of digital currencies such as Bitcoins has resulted in the formation of the Association of Crypto-Currency Enterprises and Start-ups, SIngapore (ACCESS). In a statement released on Monday (June 16), ACCESS said it is a fully registered society with the Registry of Societies under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) representing various businesses within Singapore’s Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency ecosystem. These businesses include exchanges, merchant transaction services, vending machines, and miners, it stated.
Mediabistro Inc. (OTCQX:MBIS) announced that more speakers are added to the lineup of the upcoming Inside Bitcoins Conference & Expo in Hong Kong on June 24-25 at the SkyCity Marriott Hotel. Current speakers include Ron Cao, co-founder and managing director at Lightspeed, Jehan Chu, founder of Ethereum HK Meetup Group & co-founder of Rise: Bitcoin, Bobby Lee, CEO & co-founder of BTC China, and Leon Li, CEO of Huobi.com.
Despite the recent meltdown of Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, Japan Tokyo has received its first fully-operational Bitcoin ATM. The Robocoin-branded machine, provided by domestic Bitcoin exchange BMEX, was powered on Wednesday night at The Pink Cow, a popular expat bar and restaurant in Tokyo’s Roppongi entertainment district.
Look out, Indonesia: Bitcoin Indonesia and Coin Of Sale, a Bitcoin point-of-sale system, are looking to turn Bali into a haven for Bitcoin users. More specifically, they’re looking to change the popular tourist destination into Bitcoin Island. This initiative was first started by the Bitcoin Indonesia crew. Tomas Forgac, founder of Coin Of Sale, said that they decided to join in because they believe it has several benefits for both tourists and Balinesian locals alike.
Chinese bitcoin businesses are drafting plans to escape the mainland crackdown on the digital currency, the South China Morning Post has learned. China’s biggest bitcoin exchange, Huobi, is considering shifting its operations abroad to protect its customers. “We are trying to create an offshore account and to go international,” Leon Li, founder and chief executive of the Beijing-based trading platform, told thePost. “We don’t want to touch the customers’ money in China, because maybe [regulation] is going to get worse.”
Bitcoin in China has suffered another blow today as three major institutions have effectively banned transactions involving the virtual currency through their services. China Construction Bank and Bank of China, two of the country’s “big four” banks, along with Tencent’s Tenpay, a well-known online payment system, have each issued public statements announcing they will prohibit its account holders from engaging in Bitcoin-related activity (hat-tip The Next Web).
Bitcoin is one of those things that will always be shrouded in some sort of mystery. Even the matter of who founded Bitcoin is till this date unconfirmed. The authorities have always feared the unknown, with governments and major banks opposing and seeking to regulate Bitcoin. But enthusiasts seem to remain unfazed. Case in point: Singapore Bitcoin payments system startup CoinPip has just brought US-based 37coins’ SMS bitcoin wallets to Singapore. The Bitcoin point-of-sales company hopes to then expand throughout Asia thereafter, starting with Hong Kong and Indonesia in the next month or so.
China Merchants Bank has issued an official notice that it will prohibit the use of bank accounts under its control for all Bitcoin transactions, including vouchers and recharge codes. OkCoin, BTC China, and Huobi all use China Merchants Bank for transactions. Huobi has already closed its Merchant’s Bank voucher account and switched to ICBC (big hat-tip to Rui Ma).
According to the Bitcoin community on Reddit, there are some Bitcoin enthusiasts who want to use ฿, the symbol for Thailand’s currency the Baht, as the sign for Bitcoin. This discussion came as Bitcoin has gained popularity around the world but there’s no official symbol that represents this cryptocurrency yet. Many alternatives have been suggested (see screenshot), but an unanimous decision has not been reached. The most popular one so far is the B with two lines, but that can’t actually be typed on keyboard while the Thai Baht (฿) can.
Mt. Gox, once the world’s top Bitcoin exchange, filed for bankruptcy in February this year after losing 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to its customers. During the process, the embattled company was hoping to revive and restart the exchange. But all that ends today with Mt. Gox filing for liquidation with a Tokyo court, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal. WSJ’s sources say Mt. Gox opted to liquidate due to the complexity of the bankruptcy procedure, and the lack of a clear plan to restart the exchange and recover the lost assets.
Last week, China’s bitcoin exchanges received formal notice from their respective banks that all funds must be removed from their bank accounts before April 15 or else their assets would be frozen. Now that day has come, and despite the central bank’s efforts, these exchanges are still up and running. OKCoin and Huobi both report that their accounts at ICBC – the largest bank by capital in the country – have remained unaffected.
Bitcoin enthusiasts in China now have a slick and good-looking bitcoin trading and wallet app. The new app for Android is called Bibao, which is a portmanteau for ‘bitcoin wallet’ in Chinese. Bibao is the product of startup bitcoin trading exchange Bihang, which was previously only accessible via its website. The app is tied to that exchange. Technode spotted the app upon its launch yesterday (no April Fools’ joke) and explains that it supports Bitcoin and Litecoin.
Bitcoin usage is on the rise in Asia, and the Philippines is no exception to this. But if you’re still wondering where you can use your bitcoins, here’s a list of some online and offline merchants that accept the cryptocurrency as payment: Metrodeal & CashCashPinoy Metrodeal-CashCashPinoy Earlier this month, both MetroDeal and CashCashPinoy – the country’s top two daily deal sites – started accepting bitcoin payments.
Coins.ph launched in the Philippines last year offering a Bitcoin trading platform in the country. Following this, it is now set to provide a Bitcoin payment service for daily deals sites MetroDeal and CashCashPinoy this month, with the aim of giving more payment options to consumers. Given the low credit card penetration in the Philippines and nearby Southeast Asian countries, Coins.ph co-founder Ron Hose believes this can help increase e-commerce transactions in the region. He says:
The ongoing Mt. Gox controversy got even weirder today as the Bitcoin exchange announced it has found 200,000 bitcoins. That means Mt. Gox has lost only 650,000 bitcoins (worth about US$377 million at today’s price), rather than the 850,000 it thought were lost when the embattled Tokyo-based company first sought bankruptcy protection. Rather like when you or I lose some money down the back of the couch or in an old wallet, Mt. Gox says it discovered the 200,000 virtual bitcoins in ewallets that had been “used prior to June 2011.”
Last month, the Bank of Thailand allowed the country’s largest Bitcoin exchange site Bitcoin.co.th to resume operation once again after forcing it to shut down in August. Prior to that, the bank ruled the cryptocurrency was illegal. Today, it seems the status of Bitcoin has taken another turn. The Bank of Thailand warned Thai citizens to not use Bitcoin as a mean of payment because Bitcoin is not a currency.
In a reversal of its earlier stance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, says that it will regulate virtual currency intermediaries that operate within its jurisdiction. Its goal is to address money laundering and terrorist financing risks. These intermediaries include the many Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin vending machines that have started operating in Singapore recently. In a press statement, MAS says that virtual currency transactions are vulnerable to criminal use due to its anonymous nature. As such, virtual currency entities that “buy, sell, or facilitate the exchange of virtual currencies for real currencies” will need to verify the identity of their customers. They will also need to report suspicious activity to the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office.