The Southeast Asian nation of Laos changed its official policy on September 9, authorizing six companies to trade and mine Bitcoin in a trial run while the government begins to draft regulations about its use.
According to The Laotian Times, the news follows a September 9 notice from the office of the prime minister permitting the firms, which include construction groups and one bank, to start mining and trading Bitcoin.
The traditionally conservative government’s authorization of Bitcoin mining and trading marks a shift in stance, as last month the country’s central banks warned companies and individuals against cryptocurrencies, according to the local news source.
The population of Laos is seven million. With a hydropower potential of 26.5 Gigawatts, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is one of the most hydropower resource rich countries in Southeast Asia, which is ideal for profitable and sustainable Bitcoin mining.
The companies that have been authorized to trade and mine Bitcoin include Wap Data Technology Laos, Phongsubthavy Road & Bridge Construction Co., Sisaket Construction Company Limited, Boupha Road-Bridge Design Survey Co., Ltd., Joint Development Bank, and Phousy Group.
A host of government agencies, led by the Ministry of Technology and Communications, are now tasked with researching and determining rules and regulations governing the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Laos, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Ministry of Public Security, the Bank of Laos and the Électricité du Laos.
The proposed regulations will be discussed at a meeting hosted by the Prime Minister on September 16 and 17, and notably follow the ongoing exodus of mining firms from China, the former market leader in the sector.