Nakon Danske i Švedske, Vedran Kajić uputio se u jugoistočnu Aziju. Prenosimo njegov izvještaj o putovanju po Vijetnamu. Napomena: Članak sadrži fotografije pripreme tradicionalnog vijetnamskog jela, zmije. Ako ste osjetljivi, preskočite kraj članka.
Vietnam Part 1 – The North
Vietnam is a country that is surrounded by maybe even more confusion regarding the Bitcoin situation, than Russia or China. Though relatively small in area, Vietnam has a large population of almost 100 million and a fast growing economy. The potential for Bitcoin remittance market is huge, with more than 4 million living overseas, as well as other opportunities. However, on bitlegal.io it is one of the only 2 countries marked as outright hostile to Bitcoin (the other being Iceland, where restrictions were introduced following the banking collapse of 2008-2011). So I was extremely curious to explore more about the real situation in Vietnam. As we shall see, it is not as bad as it seems, not worse than China and possibly even better.
In this report I’ll focus on the situation in the North, specifically Hanoi, the administrative centre and the capital of the country and where most of the activity is taking place.
The situation didn’t seem too good at first. I started by visiting Yolo, the only bar in Hanoi that was accepting Bitcoin but then stopped. I wanted to know more about the reasons, but the staff didn’t know much. It just ended by me participating in a drinking game and losing to a chubby Vietnamese guy who was an obvious champion. I got a contact of the owner who explained that the reason was that his partner who was running the Bitcoin payments left. So that seemed promising, and I started thinking that maybe the government wasn’t as harsh as it first seemed.
A few days later I attended a small Bitcoin meetup and met Kiem, Hoai, Thao, Thanh and Thong at a Botanical restaurant/bar, and the location where the Vietnam’s first 2-way BTM is to be installed. They also have good steak!
Kien runs a large parenting website that has about 100,000 visitors per day. He uses Bitcoin for advertising contracts. How he came to like Bitcoin is an interesting story in itself. Some time ago his servers were hacked and the attacker installed a mining operation on them. When Kien found out, he read more about Bitcoin, liked the technology and started using it. So you could say he was lucky. I don’t know if he also managed to collect some of the bitcoins generated on the servers 🙂
Apart from the Internet services, I found it interesting that also a number of physical goods and services can be paid with Bitcoin in Vietnam. From salmon baby food to metal casings. For example, Thao told me that they paid a metalworks company for the BTM casings in Bitcoin. Apparently, there is a large Bitcoin transaction volume between companies that is taking place behind the scenes. Bitcoin mining is also strong, Thao estimates that there are about 500 people involved. I am not sure about the electricity prices, but possibly they are as cheap as in China or cheaper, which would explain the mining incentive. Recent news regarding 3 Vietnamese Bitcoins miners had a positive resolution, and it seems rule of law is being followed in Vietnam despite some arbitrary police action. As Thao explains, the government issued a press release regarding Bitcoin, but not an official law.
Thao and his partner Thanh already have a network of kiosks that can be used to purchase credits for online games, mobile phones etc. using cash, but now they have also added Bitcoin payment option to the existing machines. They are also working on a 2-way BTM that will be priced around 3,000 USD.
I’ll finish the report by a dish review that has nothing to do with Bitcoin, but that I found fascinating. It is a snake, but prepared in the most interesting fashion. First, the throat is cut and blood collected in a glass. Then, the still-beating heart is taken out to be eaten fresh and followed by blood mixed with rice spirit. In the meantime, the rest of the snake is prepared.
Reinvigorated I can move on to…
So more Bitcoin reports coming from Asia!