While Bitcoin continues its quest to make record high, and brouhaha still going on around the world (such as the recent debate on whether it is a fraud) regarding the legality and application of this cryptocurrency, more and more Malaysians are now using Bitcoin as a form of payment in their daily life, from paying workshop service fees of their automobile maintenance to even buying the King of fruits – Durian (The King of Fruits in Malaysia)!
In a video where customer making a paying for his Durian purchase (which was uploaded to Youtube sometime in April 2017), it clearly shows that how 0.007 Bitcoin was transferred from the buyer to the seller in a Durian trade. The Durian seller must be very happy now if those coins are still with him, as the price of Bitcoin back then was only around USD1175, and we are seeing USD8200 at the time of writing.
In another video uploaded in Jun 2017, where a customer making payment for workshop fees, the car owner is paying the mechanic in Bitcoin using one of the popular exchange most Malaysian are familiar with, which is Luno. It clearly shows that the payment of MYR 200 equivalent in Bitcoin was made through a Luno account.
Luno – One of Bitcoin Exchange in Malaysia
The public who are exposed to the Crypto world in Malaysia knows that if they were to trade or convert their Bitcoin into local sovereign currency (Malaysian Ringgit), one of the services they can use is that of Luno, because it is able to link to their local bank accounts.
For Malaysian to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum on Luno, all they need is to prove that they are genuine, real residents in Malaysia through some documents such as electricity bill. Once verified, they can start transferring money in between Crypto and Fiat through authorized banks, either Maybank or CIMB Bank at the moment. There may be more banks to come, once the Malaysian government finalize and make their stand on Crypto Economy clear. The move of identity proofing might be needed in comply with KYC and AML policies, where the government of Malaysia is committed to fighting terrorism and globalized illegal activities.
Bitcoin – A Challenge of Price Volatility
While Bitcoin is gaining its share in the mining, trading, and daily usage in the Malaysian society, it still quite a distance away from mass market acceptance, due to its high volatility in price.
You wouldn’t want to receive a bitcoin that is worth USD 7,000 in the morning and suddenly realize it is only worth USD 6,500 in less than 24 hours (this happened in early November 2017). A whopping USD 500 loss in value in less than one day. Yes, of course the opposite might happen, but do you want to take that bet? Most people won’t, especially those selling physical goods with relatively low margins.
Digital Currencies – Towards The New Normal
While the price volatility is a general challenge, which the community and the stakeholders are trying to solve, the Malaysian government and related industry players are making their best effort in adopting and embrace this new technology into the country.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, mentioned these words: Blockchain, digital currency(crypto) and cashless transaction as the new normal in part of his speech addressing to a crowd of entrepreneurs. He is setting the direction pretty clear for the country. The Crypto Tech and Crypto Economy could be the complementing piece to the government’s DFTZ (Digital Free Trade Zone) effort, in making Malaysia one of the forefront of the Digital Economy.
The Malaysian Central Bank, BNM (Bank Negara Malaysia), had just made a step forward as well, clearing the air by announcing the government’s standpoint when it comes to Cryptocurrencies conversion. In a press release made on Nov 22, 2017 through Bernama (The National News Agency of Malaysia), it stated that Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will designate persons converting crypto currencies into fiat money as reporting institutions under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 beginning next year.
There are also comments and suggestions made by top notch bankers in Malaysia. For instance, CEO of AmInvestment Bank, Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz, had called the government to allow cryptocurrencies’ usage as electronic money.
“It’s just an electronic currency that doesn’t belong to anybody while fiat currency is sovereign based where it has its own jurisdiction regulators. I support cryptocurrency because it is a global trade,” said Raja Teh Maimunah.
While a final decision will only be made by end of the year, and clearer framework could only come after that, we are seeing a positive initiative from the country’s top leader, regulators, industry players, and the public acceptance of cryptocurrencies in Malaysia.
I would like to end this article quoting what Neo said in the movie “The Matrix”:
To my fellow Malaysians, where we go from here is a choice I leave to you.
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“SERVIS KERETA”, BAYAR GUNA BITCOIN!
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