The Taiwanese government has not banned bitcoin in Taiwan, according to comments made by Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) Minister Tseng Ming-chung. The minister said there is no law preventing use of bitcoin as long as banks are not involved in transactions.
Currently, Taiwan’s central bank does not consider bitcoin as a legal currency. Nonetheless, Tseng told the Taiwanese press that, as long as bitcoin is considered a commodity rather than a currency, then the FSC and the central bank will not regulate it.
Bitcoin has been controversial in Taiwan in recent years, and Tseng’s recent statement is more positive than his previous declarations on bitcoin, one banning bitcoin ATMs in mid-2014 and another this month stating that bitcoin was illegal. Early in November, Tseng apparently told a legislative hearing that bitcoin was illegal, after Taiwanese kidnappers demanded $10 million ransom in bitcoin for release of Hong Kong oil magnate, Wong Yuk-kwan.
Tseng made his recent statement that bitcoin is a commodity as a major convenience store chain, Family Mart, began accepting the digital currency indirectly to pay for goods. Customers can use bitcoins to purchase coupons and have them printed in shops to pay for items.
Enabled by local bitcoin firm BitoEx, Family Mart launched a program last year that permitted customers to top up their bitcoin wallet in the stores. As bitcoin is a commodity, the FSC now looks at these exchange kiosks as vending machines. With the coupon system, now users at Taiwanese Family Marts can pay with bitcoin from their electronic wallets. BitoEx formed a partnership with Hong Kong’s KBBEX with a plan to install bitcoin exchange kiosks in 11,000 Taiwanese stores, including FamilyMart, OKMart, Hi-Life and 7-11.
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