Bitcoin is a digital currency introduced by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Unlike fiat currencies such as Malaysian Ringgit, bitcoin is decentralized where it is not controlled by any entity and does not rely on governments or banks for issuance and oversight.
Bitcoin allows you to stay anonymous while making transaction. Rather than your name, only your sending/receiving addresses will be revealed. Bitcoin transactions are also relatively fast and cheap compared to traditional remittances. It takes around 10 minutes for someone on the other side of the world to receive bitcoin, rather than traditional remittances which takes a few days.
A word of caution - bitcoin transactions are irreversible. So, if you happen to send bitcoin to the wrong address, there is no way to get it back.
Where can I buy Bitcoin in Malaysia?
- Luno - most popular digital asset exchange in Malaysia which has served over 3 million users
- Sinegy - pending full approval from the Securities Commission
- Tokenize Exchange - pending full approval from the Securities Commission
- Fusang Exchange - regulated by Labuan FSA
- Huobi OTC
Now lets get to details, there are 3 ways to buy Bitcoin in Malaysia, namely:
(a) Licensed cryptocurrency exchanges
(b) Peer-to-peer platforms
(c) Bitcoin ATMs
A. Licensed Cryptocurrency Exchanges
This is the recommended way to purchase bitcoin in Malaysia. Cryptocurrency exchanges, also known as Digital Asset Exchanges (DAX) are platforms where you can trade your Malaysian Ringgit (RM) into cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrency exchanges in Malaysia are licensed and regulated by the Securities Commission of Malaysia.
Malaysia began regulating cryptocurrency exchanges in 2019. By June 2019, Securities Commission (SC) has granted approval to 3 crypto exchanges to operate in Malaysia, namely Luno, Sinegy and Tokenize. Before the licenses were issued by SC, there were 56 cryptocurrency exchanges registered as reporting organisations with Bank Negara Malaysia. SC as the regulatory body in Malaysia has since shortlisted the list to these 3 reputable exchanges. These exchanges have undergone a tough screening process and are subjected to various rules and regulations.
Cryptocurrency exchanges in Malaysia are allowed by SC to trade only Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and Bitcoin Cash for now. Do note that at the time of writing (Jan 2020), only Luno has fully complied with SC’s requirements and has received SC’s full approval to commence operations. Both Sinegy and Tokenize are still pending SC’s final approval to operate in Malaysia.
Luno is the most popular digital asset exchange in Malaysia which has served over 3 million users from more than 40 countries. Luno allows Malaysia users to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash through a Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) trading pair (i.e BTC/MYR).
Sign up using CoinGecko’s invite code and you will receive RM 25 worth of Bitcoin when you deposit money into your Luno account and buy/sell RM250 worth of Bitcoin.
2. Sinegy (Pending full approval from SC)
Sinegy is a cryptocurrency exchange founded in June 2017. The team is based in Penang. The most attractive feature of Sinegy is the reward system paid to market-makers. When trades are executed, makers get a 0.25% rebate while takers pay a fee up to 0.5%.
3. Tokenize Exchange (Pending full approval from SC)
Founded in 2017, Tokenize is a Singapore-based digital asset exchange which facilitates the buying and selling of over 30 digital currencies. The exchange is planning to introduce a reward programme and several services related to crypto-fiat pairings in Malaysia after it is fully approved by SC.
Cryptocurrencies supported: To be confirmed
Trading Fee: 0.1% to 0.8%
Deposit Fee: Free
Withdrawal Fee: To be confirmed
4. Fusang Exchange (Pending operations - regulated by Labuan FSA)
In Malaysia, there is an offshore jurisdiction known as Labuan and there is a separate regulatory body known as the Labuan Financial Services Authority. In March 2019, Fusang was granted a securities exchange license in Labuan. It is dedicated to providing financial services for Asian markets, focusing mainly on digital assets. It plans to offer services such as primary listing of securities, secondary-market trading of tokenized securities, cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
Fusang was targeted to be operational in December 2019 but there has not been any news of its launch. It is still uncertain if onshore Malaysian residents can be onboarded as Fusang clients to facilitate Malaysian Ringgit - Bitcoin purchases.
B. Peer-to-Peer Marketplace
For those who wish to deal with individual sellers directly rather than through an exchange, several platforms are currently available. These platforms generally have a review and scoring system for users, so you can see the feedback given to buyers/sellers prior to trading. Additionally, these platforms also offer escrow services which protects both buyers/sellers.
Do be careful when using peer-to-peer platforms when buying cryptocurrencies as there are higher incidences of fraud involved. Also, with the launch of the regulated digital asset exchanges in Malaysia, the following methods are no longer recommended and these platforms are technically no longer legal in Malaysia.
LocalBitcoins is the largest P2P Bitcoin (BTC) trading platform with more than one million users registered from 249 different countries. LocalBitcoins accepts a number of payment methods and charges only 1% fee for every completed trade. The users will post advertisements where they state exchange rate, price and payment methods for buying or selling bitcoins. Buyers can browse through the listings and choose their preferred seller. Every user’s feedback score is shown to help people make choices.
Remitano is a P2P trading site similar to LocalBitcoins. It supports over 30 countries and has served more than 1.5 million users. It also charges 1% trading fees but only accepts bank transfer to make payment. Compared to LocalBitcoins, Remitano supports a few more cryptocurrencies which may come in handy.
Cryptocurrencies supported: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP).
Trading Fee: 1% on buys and sells
Deposit Fee: Varies
Withdrawal Fee: Varies
3. Huobi OTC
Huobi OTC is a P2P fiat-to-crypto trading platform operated by the Huobi Group. Currently, Huobi OTC supports 27 local currencies and 13 payment methods to trade against crypto. If you are a Huobi user, you can move cryptocurrency from your exchange account to your OTC account and vise versa, with just one click.
Cryptocurrencies supported: Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), EOS (EOS), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), Huobi Token (HT) and HUSD (HUSD).
Trading Fee: Maker: 0.7% or below, Taker: Free
Deposit Fee: Free
Withdrawal Fee: Varies
C. Cryptocurrency ATM
Bitcoin ATM is a machine which allows you to buy and sell Bitcoin with cash. Unlike cryptocurrency exchanges that require verify your identity, Bitcoin ATMs do not require any verification process, which also means that your transaction can be carried out quickly.
The major drawbacks of these machines would be its limited availability and high transaction fees charged. In Malaysia, there are 9 Bitcoin ATMs located in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Nilai, Ipoh, Penang and Sungai Petani. Some ATMs charge a high fee up to 10% and thus may not be suitable for larger transactions.
Note: There is no guarantee that the 9 Bitcoin ATMs listed in the link above are still operational as we have not done any checks on these locations.
Buying Bitcoin in Malaysia is actually not as tough as it seems as there are plenty of services or platforms to help with that. However, do note that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is part of a new asset class that is relatively new and volatile compared to other asset classes. You should treat it with caution. As always, do your research and only invest what you can afford to lose!