Thailand becomes first country to ban bitcoins, central bank rules it’s not a currency

Bitcoin issued a statement on its website Monday explaining that it had delivered a presentation to officials at the Thailand central bank to educate them on how it operates in order for the bitcoin to be traded in the Asian country.

Despite their best efforts, senior officials of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department declared that it would be illegal for bitcoin to operate in Thailand because of its present laws, capital controls and bitcoin maintaining several “financial facets.”

What this means for those living and working in Thailand is that they will be prohibited from buying and selling bitcoins – doing so would be against the law. In addition, people will be banned from buying or selling goods and services in exchange for bitcoins, sending bitcoins to individuals outside of the nation and receiving bitcoins from anyone outside of the Thailand border.

“Based on such a broad and encompassing advisement, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. therefore has no choice but to suspend operations until such as time that the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existence of Bitcoin,” the company said in its statement.  “The Bank of Thailand has said they will further consider the issue, but did not give any specific timeline.”

Two other bitcoin exchanges have remained open as of Tuesday: Bahtcoin and Coinmill.

The central bank has yet to comment on the measure.

It has been known since its launch at the height of the economic collapse that bitcoins are not produced by the central bank. Instead, bitcoins are generated utilizing computers that then solve intricate cryptographic problems. Bitcoins are still regulated, though, at least according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network that noted in its guidelines that current regulations apply to virtual currencies as well.

Even with the controversy behind bitcoins and the establishment’s attempt to shut down alternative forms of currency, the bitcoin has become accepted on a broader range. The world’s first bitcoin ATM was launched this month and many others are in the midst of being propped up all over the world.

“I don’t want to speculate at this point, but we have received over 80 inquiries from more than 40 countries. We are optimistic that we will see our machines in all continents by the end of the year,” said co-founder Zach Harvey in an interview with CNBC. “We met with our Portuguese design and manufacturing team today and we expect to start accepting pre-orders within two to three weeks.”

In April, a correction occurred in bitcoins when the price fell by 60 percent from around $265 down to about $150 – the fall took place at the time around the fall of gold and silver prices. It was reported at the time, however, that the drop in bitcoins’ value was due to too much interest.

Soon after the crash took place, Forbes published various charts that looked at previous incidents where bitcoins lost a lot of its value: Jun. 8, 2012, 68 percent decline; Jan. 17, 2012, 36 percent decline; Aug. 17, 2012, 51 percent; Mar. 6, 2013, 33 percent; and Apr. 10, 2013, 61 percent.

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