- The Governor stated that strict measures would be implemented, ranging from deportation and administrative sanctions to criminal penalties and the closure of business premises.
- Violators may face imprisonment of up to one year and fines of up to 200 million rupiah.
In a press conference held on May 28, Bali’s Governor Wayan Koster declared that the provincial government would take strong action against foreign tourists using crypto as a form of payment in various establishments, including hotels, restaurants, tourism destinations, and shopping centers.
The Governor stated that tourists who “use crypto as a means of payment will be dealt with firmly.” The Governor highlighted that strict measures would be implemented, ranging from deportation and administrative sanctions to criminal penalties and the closure of business premises.
“Strict actions range from deportation, administrative sanctions, criminal penalties, closure of business premises, and other tough sanctions,” he added. He reiterated that according to Indonesian law, the use of currencies other than the national currency, the rupiah, is prohibited. Violators may face imprisonment of up to one year and fines of up to 200 million rupiah (approximately US$13,300).
Bank Indonesia’s representative in Bali, Trisno Nugroho, confirmed that while crypto assets are permitted in Indonesia, they are banned as a means of payment. Unauthorized foreign exchange activities can lead to imprisonment for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years, along with fines ranging from 50 million to 22 billion rupiah.
Governor Koster stressed that violations would result in administrative sanctions, including written reprimands, fines, and restrictions on payment transactions. Trisno Nugroho reinforced the prohibition on using cryptocurrencies for payments and reiterated that only the rupiah is recognized as a legal tender in Indonesia.
The Governor’s announcement follows an investigative report by Kompas, Indonesia’s prominent newspaper. The report revealed several businesses in Bali accepting cryptocurrency payments, such as a meditation retreat, a motorbike rental service, and a crypto-themed café. Coinmap data, a project mapping crypto-accepting businesses, indicates that there are 36 such businesses in Bali, primarily concentrated in the popular tourist town of Ubud.
Despite Bali’s strict stance, Indonesia is moving towards launching a national cryptocurrency exchange. The Ministry of Trade is reportedly set to act as a custodian and clearinghouse for the local crypto markets. Initially slated for operation by the end of 2022, the platform faced delays but is expected to be functional in the coming month.
As Bali’s government cracks down on cryptocurrency payments by tourists, it underscores the country’s commitment to the exclusive use of the rupiah for transactions.