The Cambodian government’s attitude towards cryptocurrency seems to be very mixed, according to a variety of sources. For one thing, it has blocked cryptocurrency transactions while at the same time preparing to launch its own national cryptocurrency, according to the Phnom Penh Post.
The Cambodian cryptocurrency will be called Entapay. It has been described as a private blockchain, and the website says that it will offer storage management, trading, an exchange, and offline transactions. The token sale will begin on the 31st of March with a goal of 90,000 ETH, worth just over 62 million USD. The website proclaims: “One day, Entapay will replace VISA and become the new mainstream payment method.”
Interestingly, the Director General of the National Bank of Cambodia, Chea Serey, called cryptocurrency “a new form of fraud” in November, and later banned initial coin offerings in the country. In December, the bank said that it “never allowed the purchase, sale and circulation of any form of cryptocurrencies”.
However, it has not outlawed their use, and the popularity of cryptocurrency is growing.
Cambodia is a relatively poor Southeast Asian country of around 15 million people, governed by a constitutional monarchy. It lacks a developed financial infrastructure – for example, there is a shortage of cash machines. The central bank sees blockchain technology as a way of both developing the banking industry and breaking free of the country’s reliance on the US dollar, according to CCN.
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When the government first announced the development of the national blockchain (in partnership with a Japanese company called Soramitsu) in June 2017, Serey said: “A cashless system is less costly and more transparent for the whole economy. This has always been on our agenda.”
These mixed messages have reportedly led to banks refusing to allow customers to execute transactions with cryptocurrency-oriented entities. However, there there are a number of businesses that accept cryptocurrency in a few cities according to the blog of CryptoAsia, a Cambodian Bitcoin payment company.
CryptoAsia offers Bitcoin payment widgets for websites, and it was actually the first such service in the country. The company was founded by Steve Miller, who has lived in Cambodia for eight years, according to Forbes. Apparently, Miller has been attempting to build a Bitcoin community in the country, including opening a restaurant that accepts Bitcoin from his alley-facing apartment in the capital.
Another example of a cryptocurrency native to Cambodia is KHcoin. Khcoin was launched in October 2017 with donated funds by a cryptocurrency enthusiast named In Mean.
It trades at .000000999 BTC on one obscure exchange, and Mean says that he is giving it away for free – he told the Phnom Penh Post that when he tried to charge money, the national regulator stopped him: “I wanted to bring value to my coin, but when I started my payment system, the national bank said, ‘Any crypto transaction is illegal’.” KHcoin is currently listed as a non-profit organisation.
Despite the obstacles put up by the government, some are optimistic. Rithy Thul, Cambodian entrepreneur, said: “I think it is a good sign that the [NBC] is trying to use blockchain technology, because it will be more likely to endorse future blockchain projects.”
Mean told the Phnom Penh Post: “When the NBC changes its mind, I will be ready.”