Vietnamese University Plans to Accept Bitcoin Despite Central Bank Ban

FPT, a private Vietnamese university is planning to accept tuition fees in bitcoin with a workaround of the central bank’s ban on using cryptocurrencies as payment instruments.
​FPT University is a private academic institution with campuses in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang, Vietnam’s three major cities. The university will soon begin accepting bitcoin for tuition payments from foreign students, according to FPT University President Dr. Le Truong Tung who shared the announcement on his Facebook page. With bitcoin, Tung believes foreign students can circumvent strict currency controls in their respective countries.
Dr. Tung stated:

 ​Therefore, FPT decided to test by officially and concretely announcing the enrollment of foreign students to study in Vietnam made possible by using bitcoin as a means to pay tuition fees, [which would also] attract foreign students.

According to the school official, the university is looking to research cryptocurrencies like bitcoin within its curriculum, specifically in finance, business management, and banking. The intended acceptance of bitcoin and usage of cryptocurrency for research among its courses is a pioneering move for FPT, making it the first Vietnamese university to do so. As such, there are 100 foreign students enrolled at the university, a meager 1% of the total student body. Tung expects bitcoin to help bolster those numbers as the university finds a way to accept the cryptocurrency despite recent legal frameworks by the central bank that prohibits bitcoin as a legal method of payment.
​To do so, foreign students would be required to exchange bitcoin into Vietnamese dong, the country’s fiat currency, before paying the tuition fees. Alternatively, students will also be allowed to ‘donate’ their bitcoin to a bitcoin address or wallet owned by the university, where the cryptocurrency will be changed into legal currencies to fund their ‘scholarships.’

Dr. Tung added:

 ​In principle, FPT can open a bitcoin account for students to transfer the bitcoin to the school online…Later on, when specific regulations are implemented officially, both foreign and Vietnamese students can use [pay with] bitcoin.

Yesterday, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV), the country’s central bank, clarified its position to confirm “Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are not lawful means of payment in Vietnam,” before effectively prohibiting the “issuance, supply [and] use of bitcoin.” The authority also said that using bitcoin as a means of payment will incur fines between VND 150 million – 200 million [approx. $9,000] and could also extend to criminal prosecution.
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