In a move against cryptocurrency usage in the tourism sector, the Bali Provincial Government has declared its intention to impose strict penalties on foreign tourists found using cryptocurrencies as a means of payment at local establishments. This announcement comes amid a broader initiative to preserve the integrity of Indonesia's local currency, the rupiah.
During a recent press conference on the development of tourism in Bali, Governor Wayan Koster emphasized the need for appropriate behavior by foreign tourists. This includes respecting visa limitations and adhering to the country's stringent regulations on currency use. Koster warned that any violation of these provisions will result in serious consequences.
Sanctions range from deportation and administrative penalties to criminal charges and the closure of businesses facilitating such transactions. The measures are seen as an extension of Law No. 7 of 2011, which mandates the use of the rupiah as the only permitted form of payment within Indonesia. Any deviation from this law can result in imprisonment of up to one year and fines of up to Rp200 million (approximately $13,300).
Law No. 4 of 2023 further strengthens the financial sector by enforcing the rupiah as Indonesia's official currency. Unauthorized foreign exchange activities can result in penalties ranging from a one-year minimum prison sentence to a five-year maximum, along with hefty fines.
Despite legal restrictions and potential penalties, it appears that many tourists are opting to ignore the law, using cryptocurrencies for transactions due to lax enforcement. Cryptocurrencies, despite being banned as payment instruments, are still permissible as an asset in Indonesia, according to Trisno Nugroho, head of Bank Indonesia (BI), Bali Representative Office.
As Bali, a renowned tourist destination, grapples with the influx of digital currency transactions, the global conversation around the legality and acceptability of cryptocurrencies continues to evolve.