Indonesia’s Central Bank, Bank Indonesia (BI), have united with the national police service to tackle the illegal use of Bitcoin in Bali. According to them, the tourist hot spot is much more likely to attract people trying to use the cryptocurrency for transactions that are outside the law. The Jakarta Post and local language news source Tempo.co report that on Saturday, January 13, a senior member from BI, Causa Iman Karana, announced the clampdown in Dempasar, the capital of the romantic island getaway location:
“We are looking out for bitcoin transactions in Bali, particularly in tourist spots. We will take measures against non-rupiah transactions.”
Karana also called on the people of Bali to not accept transactions using digital money. For the banker, it is the lack of central authority regulating transactions that is a primary cause for concern. Like most central bankers, the fear of their own pending redundancy was also a likely motivating factor behind his words.
This recent crackdown in Bali is part of a wider initiative against the use of cryptocurrency in the nation of Indonesia. According to national legislators, making transactions in Bitcoin violates Law No. 7/2011 on currency. This recent reiteration underlines the initiative penned at the bank late last year. In early December, Bank Indonesia issued BI Regulation No. PBI: 19/12/PBI/2017. This expressly banned the use of digital currency in Indonesia and stated that all transactions and payments must be made using the national currency, the rupiah. A spokesperson for the bank, Agusman, at the time spoke of the risks posed to those getting involved in the digital currency space. Like Karana, he too deemed the primary issue with virtual money transactions the lack of centralised control:
“We warned people not to carry out transactions with virtual money because there is no authority that regulates the transactions.”
The bank spokesperson went on to highlight the speculative risk of using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Also amongst his concerns were the dangerous posed to the state because of money laundering, as well as the ease with which virtual currencies could be used to finance terrorism. Agusman concluded with a straight forward message for the people of his country:
Therefore, [BI] wants all parties not to sell, buy or trade the virtual currency.
Indonesia isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last country who attempts to stamp out the use of virtual currencies by force. Across the globe, Bolivia, Algeria, Ecuador, and Nepal are amongst those nations that have issued an outright ban on the use and trading of digital currencies. However, such small economies are incapable of moving the price of BTC or any other currency in any dramatic fashion. If the global popularity of crypto continues to grow, it’s likely that these States will be forced to liberalise their knee-jerk legislation or else get left further behind the planet’s larger economies.
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