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Bitcoin mining machine imports raise controversy
The Saigon Times Daily
Monday,  Oct 29, 2018,13:44 (GMT+7)

Bitcoin mining machine imports raise controversy

The Saigon Times Daily

A Bitcoin coin is seen in an illustration picture taken on June 23, 2017 - PHOTO: REUTERS

HCMC – The Ministry of Finance proposed banning the import of cryptocurrency mining machines, but the Ministry of Industry and Trade has voiced its objection, noting that a ban would be inappropriate and could contradict other regulations, Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

In addition to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Bank of Vietnam were unanimous in throwing their weight behind the proposal to discontinue importing cryptocurrency mining machines. However, the Ministry of Industry and Trade stated that if the proposal to suspend imports of virtual currency mining machines with the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, or HS code of 8471.80.90, was approved, the scale of execution would be very large.

In particular, as a specific HS code of products that need governance has yet to be determined, avoiding these imports goes against regulations in the Law on Foreign Trade Management on the right to import-export freedom. Therefore, the Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed appointing the Ministry of Finance to research, classify and set an HS code for virtual currency mining machines so that the State can adopt suitable management measures.

The Ministry of Information and Communications had earlier placed mining machines into two categories: application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) and VGA. Regarding ASIC, it is suitable and compliant with regulations to stop importing machines designed for highly specific cryptocurrency mining applications. The VGA mining machine, meanwhile, was assembled as a common computer, so the ministry proposed not limiting these imports.

The controversy resulted from a strong surge in the price of the cryptocurrency, driving up the price of mining machines in 2017. Investment packages for leasing and buying mining machines were commonly created based on a multilevel marketing format. However, it was also the depreciation of cryptocurrency and the flight of owners of firms specializing in virtual money that caused heavy losses for investors.

Nguyen Anh Phong from HCMC University of Economics and Law noted it was unnecessary to launch a ban on imports since the market will self-adjust. One bitcoin is now priced at US$6,000, the same as the cost of mining, leading to less investment in the business.

The lack of profits will deter investors from buying mining machines, Phong added. Moreover, mining machines are normal products beyond the banned items list, so it is not essential to issue a new regulation.

Phong also proposed State managers focus on researching and establishing regulations on e-payments and digital currencies, as products of financial services are on the rise.

Financial expert Nguyen Tri Hieu shared this opinion, saying that the ban was just a preventive measure. Since hundreds of mining machines have already been imported, the ban alone will not help to abolish cryptocurrency trading operations.

Hieu stressed that it was vital to intensify checks, controls and the handling of violations involving mining machine-related multilevel marketing practices. Particularly, management agencies should create and enforce a strict legal framework for digital currency-related management, transactions and payments to avoid violations in the market.

Besides this, financial expert Can Van Luc stated that even though mining machines are not a prohibited product, it is necessary to tighten control over imports of ASIC mining machines to promptly handle cases of suspected fraud.

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