This week's news from the country's financial regulator regarding the ICO portal will serve to further strengthen Thailand's already expanding crypto offer. Photo: iStock

The mood in Thailand’s digital asset sector is increasingly optimistic as media reports in there say the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has given the green light for the country first initial coin offering (ICO) “portal” and is also about to issue criteria for securities token offerings as well.

The SEC news about the portal, that is designed to help to carry out due diligence and know-your-customer verification screening for crypto-currency fund raising, comes after the Thai Ministry of Finance granted digital asset business exchange licenses to three operators, BX, Bitkub, and Satang, and a Broker license to Coins.co.th, in January.

The country’s stock exchange is also formalizing its relationship with the digital assets sector and is said to be applying for a crypto-currency exchange license, with an application hearing reportedly set for March 27th.

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) is also said to looking at the advantages of a blockchain-based currency. In August last year, local media reported that the BoT, Thailand’s central bank, was looking into launching a new virtual currency called the Central Bank Digital Currency. The BoT said at the time that it, alongside eight commercial banks, were developing a test of a proof-of-concept prototype for domestic fund transfers using the new crypto-currency platform.

This week’s news from the SEC, regarding the ICO portal, will serve to further strengthen the country’s already expanding crypto offer.

“We definitely know for sure that there is at least one ICO portal license to be given out in the first quarter of 2019, and the Securities and Exchange Commission will be announcing very soon who is to receive it,” Topp Jirayut Srupsrisopa, Co-Founder and CEO of recently licensed exchange Bitkub, told Asia Times.

The portal will be operated by a foreign company, according to media, that has not yet been named but will be chosen from an SEC shortlist of 10.

“With this landmark move, the digital asset ecosystem in Thailand is growing even stronger. It means we are on our way to digitize, and create a better transaction network for the entire world, with Thailand at the center – and this is whether it is for a currency, asset or anything of value. Just like the internet, the impact of this transformation will be huge,” said Topp.

In terms of updating guidelines for STOs (Security token offerings), Thai regulatory moves have meant that tokenization and trading of everything from real estate to diamonds and gold, or intellectual property and celebrity branding, will be possible in the near future.

“The market has high potential to exceed the traditional stock exchange industry, as more type of assets can be digitized and traded in the same manner as digital stocks,” added Topp.

The mood is in stark contrast to the beginning of 2018 when Thai government measures were seen to be driving the industry underground. These included the introduction of a 7% value-added tax and an additional 15% tax on capital gains for all crypto-currency trades.

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