Bali, the picturesque Indonesian island often frequented by crypto enthusiasts, is now intensifying efforts to discourage tourists from using cryptocurrencies as a preferred payment method. The Bali government has recently made it clear that only the nation’s fiat currency, the Indonesian rupiah, holds legal tender status.
According to news agency Antara, Governor Wayan Koster warned foreigners about the strict consequences they would face if they engaged in inappropriate behavior, violated their visa permit conditions, made crypto-based payments, or infringed upon other provisions.
“Strict actions range from deportation, administrative sanctions, criminal penalties, closure of business premises, and other tough sanctions,” Koster said at a tourism development press conference on Sunday.
This decisive move by the government reinforces its unwavering commitment to maintaining Indonesia’s traditional monetary system. According to Indonesian law, any violation of this regulation could lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment for up to one year and a hefty fine of up to 200 million rupiah (equivalent to around $13,300).
“Violations will be subject to administrative sanctions in the form of written reprimands, obligations to pay fines, and prohibitions from payment transactions,” Koster said.
Notable attendees at the press conference included Bali Police Chief Inspector General Putu Jayan Danu Putra, along with various stakeholders involved in tourism development and law enforcement.
Governor Koster’s recent action in Bali stems from a comprehensive investigation conducted by Kompas, the country’s prominent newspaper outlet. The report uncovered numerous businesses in Bali were accepting payments in cryptocurrencies.
The businesses in question ranged from a café incorporating a crypto-themed concept to a meditation retreat using digital currencies. Surprisingly, even a motorbike rental service allowed customers to pay using cryptocurrencies.
“We accept online payments in rubles (Russian currency), hryvnias (Ukrainian currency), US dollars, euros and cryptocurrencies,” said a motorbike rental service with the initials BGB on its website.
While the possession and trading of cryptocurrencies are permitted in Indonesia, using them as a means of payment is strictly prohibited.
Supporting the assertions made in the report, Coinmap focused on mapping businesses that use cryptocurrencies on the island. According to their data, 36 establishments in Bali currently accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.
Most of these businesses are concentrated in Ubud, a popular tourist destination known for its vibrant cultural scene and the influx of visitors worldwide.
Parq Ubud, a well-known tourism service business in the accommodation sector, has recently garnered attention for its alleged acceptance of cryptocurrency payments. The company advertises the option to pay with crypto assets in its apartment unit catalog. It provides guests with two addresses on different networks for making cryptocurrency transfers when renting accommodations.
I Gusti Ngurah Eka Sidhimantra, the owner of Parq Space Ubud, vehemently denied accepting cryptocurrency as a payment option at his establishment. Instead, Sidhimantra clarified that his company strictly adheres to conventional payment methods, specifically cash and bank cards.
He asserted that the information mentioned in the Parq Ubud catalog regarding crypto payments remains speculative and should not be considered a verified feature of their business operations.
The acceptance of cryptocurrency payments has become increasingly prevalent due to the demand from foreign nationals, particularly those hailing from countries affected by war and economic sanctions.
In a recent interview, Gregory, a 37-year-old Russian citizen, admitted to relying on cryptocurrency assets to facilitate his transactions. Kompas reported that Gregory pointed out the challenges faced by many Russians, who find it increasingly difficult to access international transaction services due to economic sanctions imposed as a consequence of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.
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