A panoramic view of Bangkok at dusk. The Thai capital has been the world's most visited city for four years. Photo: iStock

So who is scared of the big bad crypto bear market? Not Thailand, apparently. Since the Thai Ministry of Finance granted digital asset business licenses to four operators, BX, Bitkub, Satang and Coins.co.th, and the country’s stock exchange was reported to be applying for a crypto-currency exchange license, the mood in Thailand has remained upbeat and optimistic.

“We have been working closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] for two years now, starting from educating them about the potential of the blockchain technology, to joining their private hearing sessions in order to draft out the regulations on this space,” Topp Jirayut Srupsrisopa, Co-Founder and CEO of Bitkub, one of the recently licensed exchanges, told Asia Times.

Speculation over crypto-currency developments in the country increased after the Bank of Thailand announced plans to launch a yet to be seen crypto-currency by the first quarter of 2019, as reported in Asia Times in August.

The mood is in stark contrast to the beginning of 2018 when Thai government measures – including the introduction of a 7% value-added tax that was in addition to a 15% tax on capital gains for all crypto-currency trades – were seen to be sending the crypto industry underground.

“The Revenue Department [RD] is revisiting their standpoint on the tax situation in Thailand,” added Topp. “Both the SEC and the private sectors have been educating the RD with regards to the crypto tax situation.

“In fact, the RD has been quiet on the tax situation since their last announcement. I think they started to understand that the previous announcement is not feasible when it comes to the actual implementation.”

Topp says this could lead to the Thai government soon changing their crypto tax standpoint but, with stiff competition from the likes of Japan and Singapore, will it be enough?

“I think regulation is the key to unlock potentials in this space,” says Topp, adding that if scams can be removed and retail investors protected, a “tokenization of assets” could have a direct impact on the country’s GDP.

“A lot of talent and blockchain companies [could then] move their base to Thailand and a new generation of companies will be founded here.”

“I think the government understands the importance and the impact of the blockchain technology,’ concludes Topp. “Blockchain and crypto-currencies will serve thousands of unbanked individuals and a whole layer of banking bureaucracy [can be] removed by lowering transaction costs. Soon anything that can be digitized will be digitized.”

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