Having issued a stark warning to “all parties” against any use of “virtual currency”, Bank Indonesia has now joined forces with local police to prevent bitcoin transactions where they are most likely to take place – in Bali. The island, a popular holiday destination with tourists spending both fiat and crypto, has been targeted by authorities. Inspections of businesses accepting bitcoin are underway, according to Indonesian media and the crypto community in the country.
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Authorities on the Lookout for Illegal Transactions
Representatives of the Indonesian central bank and the national police force on the island have teamed up to investigate cases of cryptocurrency trading deemed illegal by authorities in Jakarta. They have already started collecting information about possible violations.
The crackdown in Bali comes after BI declared bitcoin an illegal form of payment in the country. Virtual currencies are prohibited in Indonesia, the financial institution stated. Rupiahs should be used for all payments and transactions that need money. The banning statement came with plans to swiftly implement the rules:
We are looking out for bitcoin transactions in Bali, particularly in tourist spots. We will take measures against non-rupiah transactions.
That announcement was made by the head of BI’s local branch Causa Iman Karana, who called the island “an alluring place for those who want to carry out illegal transactions”. Quoted by local press, Karana said in Denpasar that institutions had already warned people not to use virtual money “because there is no authority that regulates transactions”.
Businesses Can Be Closed, Owners Taken to Court
Members of the crypto community on the island quickly shared the news of the imminent crackdown in social media. Warnings were posted about checks expected to be carried out by bank officials and local law enforcement officers. Businesses could be suspended and owners taken to court, if they accept bitcoin payments. A villa has been reportedly closed down by inspectors. A foreign national had been used as a “mystery customer”… according to comments on the Bitcoins in Bali Facebook page.
Bali has been put in the spotlight after the announced prohibition of payments involving bitcoin. BI’s spokesman Agusman Zainal said that such transactions violated Law No. 7/2011 regulating currencies and their transactions in the country.
The ban has been further detailed in a dedicated bank regulation No. PBI: 19/12/PBI/2017 covering the implementation of financial technology. Under the current law, any payment in Indonesia should be made in the national currency, the Rupiah.
The central bank official also pointed to the risks associated with bitcoin transactions, noting that the cryptocurrency had no “official administrator”. Money laundering, terrorism and other criminal activities were added to the ubiquitous list of unwanted side effects.
Indonesians had been notified about the restrictions long before BI issued its ultimate warning to “not buy, sell, or trade virtual currency”. The assault on Bali shows that Jakarta means business. But what the crackdown means for the business, only time will show.
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