On September 9, 2021, Laos announced a new pilot program to allow the mining and trading of cryptocurrency. Notification No. 1158, issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, provides for an electricity sale-purchase agreement with six companies involved in the pilot program. Under the notification, the six companies authorized by the prime minister to mine and trade cryptocurrency in Laos will pay a capped fee for energy they use in data processing or mining cryptocurrency. This effectively establishes a sandbox in which these six companies may mine and trade cryptocurrency—including on international cryptocurrency exchanges.

The Ministry of Technology and Communications (MTC) is in charge of coordinating the program, together with the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of the Lao PDR, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Ministry of Public Security, and Électricité du Laos. The MTC is also charged with drafting the rules of the pilot program and setting the conditions on which the participating companies can mine, sell, and purchase cryptocurrency in Laos. One of the six selected companies will also act as a coordinator for the other companies and report to the government on any benefits of cryptocurrency observed during the pilot program.

The next step is for the MTC to compile data analysis from each of the other government agencies and submit the conclusions to a meeting of the prime minister and the deputy prime ministers before the pilot program is implemented. The pilot program was originally scheduled to start in September, but there has not yet been any update on the implementation of the program, which nonetheless is expected to start in the near future.