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Digital Assets Face an Uncertain Future in Thailand



Digital Assets Face an Uncertain Future in Thailand

The Bank of Thailand (BOT) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have released comprehensive regulations governing digital assets, effectively curtailing their aggressive outreach.

According to Thai PBS, the authorities explained that the move was intended to protect investors and ensure the financial stability of digital assets.

In essence, the measure prohibited digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and tokens, from being used as payment methods. Cryptocurrency exchanges, brokers, dealers, investment advisers, ICO portals, and fund managers are prohibited from creating infrastructure that could facilitate the payment for goods and services using cryptocurrency.

The establishment of e-wallets that serve as payment tools is prohibited. This law takes effect on April 1.

Digital assets used to pay for goods and services cannot be advertised by players in the field.

In addition, the central bank has restricted banks’ investment in digital assets; a bank’s investment cannot exceed 3 percent of its capital.

These updated rules come as regulators are increasingly concerned about the rising interest in digital assets that are considered unsound or even harmful to retail investors. They don’t understand the risks involved.

Digital assets trading

There have been increasing numbers of investors opening accounts to trade in digital assets. From 2020 to 2021, the number of trading accounts jumped by more than three times, from 700,000 to 2.27 million.

Thailand ranks first in the world in terms of cryptocurrency owners.

As many as 20.1 percent of cryptocurrency holders own internet accounts, nearly double the global average of 10.2 percent.

Businesses are also engaging in this new industry in increasing numbers. There are currently eight exchanges for digital assets and seven portals for ICOs in Thailand.

Further, the number of commercial banks and other financial institutions investing in digital assets is increasing.

In spite of banning cryptocurrency as a form of payment, Thai regulators see the advantages of digital assets, such as improving financial services, allowing businesses to borrow money, facilitating business-client engagement, and providing retail investors with investment opportunities.

The advent of the Metaverse

While eminent value investors like Warren Buffett and locals like Niwet Hemavachirawarakorn have strongly opposed investing in digital assets, they continue to do so. According to them, these digital assets have no intrinsic value.

The advent of the Metaverse – a network of virtual worlds focused on social interaction – has complicated things further.

The coming of Metaverse, which promotes the digital economy domestically and internationally, is widely touted.

However, if Metaverse is to succeed, goods and services would need to be transacted via cryptocurrencies, according to the National Economic and Social Development Council, the state think-tank. Thailand has not yet set up rules and regulations for this new industry.

Payments on the Metaverse platforms could be made using cryptocurrency supported by the central bank. To begin with, those who wish to run it must use sandboxes first.

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