Bitcoin Declared Illegal in Taiwan

The Chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has declared Bitcoin to be illegal in Taiwan, following a recent high-profile kidnapping accident involving ransom demands made in Bitcoin.

Despite the mainstream adoption of Bitcoin by a largely tech-savvy population in Taiwan wherein citizens have the means to buy bitcoin in popular convenience store chains, the Taiwanese FSC has today declared Bitcoin to be illegal in the country.

Tseng Ming-Chung

FSC Chairman Tseng Ming-Chung

The announcement came after a recent high-profile incident wherein a prominent Hong Kong business tycoon was kidnapped by a criminal gang who demanded HK$70 million (approx. 30,000 BTC or over USD $ 10 million) in Bitcoin. The victim was rescued soon after a payment of HK$13 million (approx. 4,800 BTC or USD $1.6 million).

Focus Taiwan, a national news agency reports that Tseng Ming-Chung, Chairman of the FSC deemed any usage of the cryptocurrency in the country to be illegal. Furthermore, he also stated that the FSC would collaborate with Taiwan’s central bank and law enforcement agencies to “crack down” on any illegal activities relating to Bitcoin.

The Chairman also reportedly said:

The FSC will also publish a statement jointly with the central bank to inform other countries of such regulations.

In early 2014, Ming-Chung had stated that bitcoin holders are “on their own” and aren’t entitled to legal claims nor guarantee of conversion after noting that the cryptocurrency was not issued by a monetary authority.

He was also completely dismissive of the possibility of a bitcoin ATM operating in the country, noting that the ATM would require approval by the FSC which, he added, “will not be given.”

To openly flout the statement, adopters of the cryptocurrency installed a Bitcoin ATM in April, 2014, merely months after Chairman Tseng drawing the line about the possibility of Bitcoin ATMs operating in the country.

Last year, there were two functioning Bitcoin exchanges in the country namely Bitage and Bitquick. Bitage’s website is not functioning at the time of publishing and Bitquick, while active, does not show up with an HTTPS certificate.

Curiously, selecting a different Bitquick country-portal (USA/EU and India) shows that both websites do have encryption. At this time, it is still speculation to see any reason to relate the Chairman’s comments about Bitcoin to Bitquick’s website not functioning as it normally would.

Beyond speculation, the very real possibility of banning Bitcoin in the country is bound to have a profound impact on a Taiwanese population that has grown to buy and even pay for utilities and bills using the cryptocurrency.

Images from Shutterstock and Wikipedia.

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