Thailand’s government has ruled electronic currency Bitcoin as illegal in the Southeast Asian country, leading to an indefinite trading suspension, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. Thailand said in a message on its website.
The ruling means that buying and selling Bitcoins, as well as any goods or services in exchange for Bitcoins, are banned. Sending and receiving Bitcoins to or from anyone located outside of Thailand have also been ruled as illegal.
The local Bitcoin exchange said it was in the process of registering with various Thai government agencies over the past few months as it sought to operate in a lawful manner, but its stumbling block came in the form of the Bank of Thailand, which regulates financial transactions in the country.
Despite trying to ask for guidance with regards to applicable licenses in buying and selling Bitcoins, the team got shot down after the central bank cited a lack of existing applicable laws, capital controls and the fact that Bitcoin “straddles multiple financial facets.” The Bitcoin exchange said:
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 existance of Bitcoin.
This may not even materialize. The Bitcoin team said the Bank of Thailand mentioned they would consider this issue, but did not give any specific timeline.
This is not the first time Bitcoin has come under pressure, though it may very well be the first time it has been banned in a country.
In June, US authorities were examining the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin amid fears that Americans were using them to evade taxes.
Top Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has been facing troubles recently as the popularity of Bitcoin has surged. In addition to bearing the strain of larger volumes of transactions, the company has suffered a number of DDoS attacks and was forced to halt trading in April following a major Bitcoin price crash.
Headline image via Zach Copley / Flickr