Bitcoin finds market in Indonesia

A Bitcoin wallet on a smartphone.The digital currency Bitcoin meets rising interest in Indonesia as the country’s official currency, the rupiah, has dropped sharply over the past months and people seem to discover Bitcoins as a legitimate investment.

While Indonesia’s market share in Bitcoin circulation is currently just 1 per cent at a value of $164,000 a month, experts say that there is a trend that more people and businesses might resort to the digital currency. Some websites, such as Republikhost.com and Ads-id.com, are already accepting Bitcoins, and there is also a Bitcoin trading website Bitcoin.co.id.

On December 21, Bank Indonesia, the country’s central bank, issued a statement on Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin is a potential payment method, but it’s different than ordinary currency,” Difi Ahmad Johansyah, the executive director for communication at Bank Indonesia, said. “It is not regulated by the central bank so there are risks.”

Bitcoin advocates in Indonesia say that for residents the digital currency has the advantage that it does not experience inflation unlike the rupiah because the total amount of Bitcoins is fixed.

Currently, China is the largest market for Bitcoin globally with 50 per cent of the circulation. However, population-rich countries with shaky currencies such as India and Indonesia are catching up rapidly.

Thailand earlier this year has banned the use of Bitcoin, arguing there were “no applicable currency controls” for the cryptocurrency. 

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Arno Maierbrugger

Business journalist

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