Ni Komang Erviani, Jakarta – The Bali administration has warned foreign tourists visiting the popular resort island against making cryptocurrency payments, with the governor, I Wayan Koster, saying the practice is illegal in Indonesia and violators can face one year in prison or fines.
Koster made the statement during a press briefing on Sunday, in response to news reports that suggested several hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and other tourism destinations in Bali have accepted cryptocurrencies as payment.
"Foreign tourists who behave rowdily, conduct activities that are not within the limits of their visa, use cryptocurrencies for payments or violate any laws will be sanctioned. They could be deported, receive a warning or even be charged with criminal offenses under the Criminal Code," Koster said.
He cited several prevailing national regulations, particularly the 2011 Currency Law that bans the use of currencies other than the rupiah, saying that violations of this law are punishable with a maximum penalty of one year in prison or Rp 200 million (US$13,356) in fines.
Kompas.id reported last week that international tourists in Bali, who faced difficulties making financial transactions due to economic sanctions imposed on their countries, such as Russia, were utilizing cryptocurrencies as a means of payment. A cafe in the trendy neighborhood of Seminyak allegedly allowed customers to pay using cryptocurrencies, which the new management has denied, Kompas.id reported.
Koster said that local businesses should not accept crypto payments from tourists. "Do not tolerate tourists who do not respect the laws of Indonesia or the local customs [in Bali]."
Bali Police have launched an investigation into the use of cryptocurency payments on the island, using the currency law as the basis for their probe.
"We are now investigating several places that are suspected of secretly accepting cryptocurrency payments. So far, there are five places, but there could be more," Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Putu Jayan Danu Putra said during the same Sunday press conference.
Putu alleged that several businesses accepted crypto payments through their websites or used barcodes to facilitate the non-conventional transactions.
Bank Indonesia's (BI) Bali office head Trisno Nugroho said that the rupiah should be used as the only currency for both cash and non-cash payments in Indonesia, given that the central bank has ensured access to the rupiah.
"We have provided access to the rupiah through money changers in Bali. There are at least 138 [licensed] money changers across the province, with a total of more than 500 branches," he emphasized.
Trisno said that BI was now working with Bali Police to investigate the businesses allegedly accepting cryptocurrency payments.
"As an asset, cryptocurrency is allowed to be traded in Indonesia as we have Bappebti to monitor it. However, the use of cryptocurrencies for payments is banned as we only recognize the rupiah as the only currency for making payments," he said, referring to the Trade Ministry's Futures Exchange Supervisory Board.
The Bali administration has been clamping down on international tourists who violate Indonesian laws or local customs and is planning to ban international tourists from renting motorbikes following allegations of rampant traffic violations by foreign tourists.