Cambodia turns into Bitcoin hub of Southeast Asia

Skeptically observed by the country’s central bank, Cambodia is increasingly becoming a regional center for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies both in terms of trading and of mining.

There are quite a few reasons why digital currencies are taking off in the small and to some extent a bit lawless country. One is that, despite open distrust from the central bank, there are not really any regulations regarding cryptocurrencies, let alone any enforcement against what would constitute illegal use of digital money.

Instead, more and more Cambodians and expats alike are trying to become part of the growing cryptocurrency market. Facebook and messaging groups related to cryptocurrencies are popping up on a regular basis, and there are also already homegrown digital currencies such as KHCoin and K-Coin, and a growing number of restaurants, guesthouses and shops have started to accept Bitcoin and related currencies. The newly launched Coin Café in Phnom Penh serves authentic Khmer food for Bitcoin and has established itself as a popular meeting point for cryptocurrency aficionados.

Moreover, mining Bitcoin and other digital currencies has become a worthwhile venture in Cambodia because of access to comparably cheap electricity and stable Internet connections. On December 18 last year, Cambodia’s first digital currency exchange, LockCoin, was launched and now offers transactions in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and many other digital currencies for US dollar, euro, pound, yen and other popular currencies.

Another firm founded in Phnom Penh, CryptoAsia, acts as a digital payment gateway and enables vendors to accept Bitcoin payments and be paid in dollars. The founder, expat Steve Miller, is busy with setting up another fully-fledged Bitcoin exchange. And MicroMoney, a cryptocurrency-based payment service provider using its own digital tokens, was founded in 2015 in Cambodia and has since expanded to other developing countries in Asia and even plans to reach out to Africa and Latin America.

Meanwhile, the National Bank of Cambodia has warned of potential fraud related to cryptocurrency trade and said it had “never allowed” the purchase, sale or circulation of any form of cryptocurrency in the country. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia also warned the public against investing in cryptocurrencies, arguing that there was no regulation in place to manage the use of digital coins.

However, there is no official ban of cryptocurrencies, and the central bank even mulls the development of its own blockchain-based payment infrastructure in cooperation with Japanese fintech Soramitsu. And, interestingly, Oknha Sorn Sokna, Cambodian businessman, Vice-President of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and financial advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen, is one of the largest shareholders of the above mentioned cryptocurrency payment network MicroMoney.

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Skeptically observed by the country’s central bank, Cambodia is increasingly becoming a regional center for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies both in terms of trading and of mining.

Skeptically observed by the country’s central bank, Cambodia is increasingly becoming a regional center for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies both in terms of trading and of mining.

There are quite a few reasons why digital currencies are taking off in the small and to some extent a bit lawless country. One is that, despite open distrust from the central bank, there are not really any regulations regarding cryptocurrencies, let alone any enforcement against what would constitute illegal use of digital money.

Instead, more and more Cambodians and expats alike are trying to become part of the growing cryptocurrency market. Facebook and messaging groups related to cryptocurrencies are popping up on a regular basis, and there are also already homegrown digital currencies such as KHCoin and K-Coin, and a growing number of restaurants, guesthouses and shops have started to accept Bitcoin and related currencies. The newly launched Coin Café in Phnom Penh serves authentic Khmer food for Bitcoin and has established itself as a popular meeting point for cryptocurrency aficionados.

Moreover, mining Bitcoin and other digital currencies has become a worthwhile venture in Cambodia because of access to comparably cheap electricity and stable Internet connections. On December 18 last year, Cambodia’s first digital currency exchange, LockCoin, was launched and now offers transactions in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and many other digital currencies for US dollar, euro, pound, yen and other popular currencies.

Another firm founded in Phnom Penh, CryptoAsia, acts as a digital payment gateway and enables vendors to accept Bitcoin payments and be paid in dollars. The founder, expat Steve Miller, is busy with setting up another fully-fledged Bitcoin exchange. And MicroMoney, a cryptocurrency-based payment service provider using its own digital tokens, was founded in 2015 in Cambodia and has since expanded to other developing countries in Asia and even plans to reach out to Africa and Latin America.

Meanwhile, the National Bank of Cambodia has warned of potential fraud related to cryptocurrency trade and said it had “never allowed” the purchase, sale or circulation of any form of cryptocurrency in the country. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia also warned the public against investing in cryptocurrencies, arguing that there was no regulation in place to manage the use of digital coins.

However, there is no official ban of cryptocurrencies, and the central bank even mulls the development of its own blockchain-based payment infrastructure in cooperation with Japanese fintech Soramitsu. And, interestingly, Oknha Sorn Sokna, Cambodian businessman, Vice-President of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and financial advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen, is one of the largest shareholders of the above mentioned cryptocurrency payment network MicroMoney.

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