Bitcoin, the digital currency that has its fair share of supporters and haters, has been deemed illegal in Thailand.
Writing in a blog post
on Monday, Bitcoin
announced that over the last several months, it has been trying to get its currency registered by the Thailand government to ensure it was offering its digital funds through legal means. After initially denying Bitcoin the legal status to allow citizens to buy and sell its currency, the government's financial watchdog, the Bank of Thailand, offered to hear its case on July 29th.
At a Bank of Thailand conference yesterday, Bitcoin showed off to 15 members of the financial agency how the currency works, and provided insight into its operation, the company wrote. Soon after, however, the bank was quick to deem the service illegal.
According to Bitcoin, the bank's Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department reasoned that because Thailand lacks laws that would govern the digital currency, several of its activities are illegal, including the act of buying and selling Bitcoins, as well as buying and selling goods in exchange for the currency. The country's citizens are also banned from sending or receiving Bitcoins.
"Based on such a broad and encompassing advisement, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. therefore has no choice but to suspend operations until such time as the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existence of Bitcoin," the company wrote in its blog post. "The Bank of Thailand has said they will further consider the issue, but did not give any specific timeline."
With the Bank's ruling, Thailand has become the first government to officially ban the use of Bitcoin. Other countries, including the U.S., have expressed concern over virtual currencies, and in some cases have fingered Bitcoin as their chief concern.
Bitcoin is growing in leaps and bounds
. A key component in its growth is its encryption, which allows for traders to buy and sell the currency nearly anonymously. It has been argued that in addition to regular currency transactions, Bitcoin is used in the online black market, leading to further concern over its growth.