As our subscribers can see through our worldwide coverage on bitcoin, companies have been popping up all over the globe to help their local economies interact with bitcoin. Once such company is Bitcoin Vietnam (website here), and I was able to talk with their Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dominik Weil to see what they’re up to.
Founded in December of 2013, headquartered in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), and currently sporting 6 employees, Bitcoin Vietnam started with a live exchange for bitcoin/dong pairs and a brokered exchange that could service international customers. As of publishing, they have around 2,600 registered users and see a trading volume of around 1 bitcoin per day. The company also currently offers a merchant payments solution, where they are able to cash out 100% of the bitcoin transaction to the merchant.
Recently, the company released a bitcoin wallet function, built entirely in-house. This was created because a lot of users were often confused by the need to go elsewhere to obtain a bitcoin address, and an exchange having their own wallet makes the experience much easier for consumers (in fact, this is a trend we’re seeing worldwide). The new wallet has been successful in streamlining the process for local users, with Mr. Weil saying that “even a 50 year old gentlemen” was able to signup.
Source: Bitcoin Vietnam website
Mr. Weil believes that the long term success of bitcoin will be in “creating daily use cases” for the crypto-currency. And in Vietnam, one clear use case is the remittance market. Official numbers indicate that the country received $11B in remittances last year, with Ho Chi Minh City showing a 20% growth by itself (from $4B to $5B). If anything, these numbers understate the market since they do not account for unregistered agents who pool cash from abroad then bring it into the country. Bitcoin Vietnam already offers the ability for their users to take bitcoin, convert it to dong, and provide that dong directly into a local bank account; the end user doesn’t even need to know that bitcoin was used. From a regulatory point of view, Know-Your-Customer (KYC) is done on the receiver side as they already have a bank account as well as the sender side when they register for a Bitcoin Vietnam account (depending on how large the transactions are). While the company admits that their current fees of 5% are too high to make this an attractive option at the moment relative to their key competitor Paypal, they are planning to drop the fees in the near future to a more competitive 3%.
Moving forward, the company will focus on building more products and improving their existing line. Using their new wallet function, they hope to enable merchants to select their level of bitcoin cash out in the near future. They will also upgrade their wallet security to include multi-signature on the customer facing side (at the moment, the wallet is multi-sig only on the backend). Looking at larger changes, Bitcoin Vietnam will be releasing a white-label solution for margin trading, hopes to partner with bitcoin mining companies to offer options on mining contracts, and has plans to act as the backend for ATMs which offer bitcoin as a payment option.
All in all, I believe the company sees itself as being the eventual one-stop-shop for all things bitcoin in Vietnam.