Thailand issues its first licenses to 4 crypto exchanges

Thailand has joined Japan in regulating crypto exchanges after it issued its first licenses to four applicants.

The four that were approved as licensed brokers and dealers of cryptocurrencies in the country are Bx, Bitkub, Coins and Satang Pro. One other exchange — Coin Asset — is under extended review after replacing its management team in a bid to win a license.

But two that failed to win a license — Cash2Coins and Southeast Asia Digital Exchange — will shut down this month. They have until January 14 to notify their customers and move any assets outside of their exchanges. The companies were rejected on account of insufficient know your customer (KYC) processes and inadequate IT infrastructure, according to an announcement.

The deal has been hailed as a major step forward for the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies in Thailand.

“We can partner with traditional financial institutions, brokers, e-wallets etc. to offer more financial products to customers,” Jirayut Srupsrisopa, the founder of Bitkub, told TechCrunch. “The bottleneck was the regulation.”

The move could help Thailand establish itself as a hub for the blockchain industry in Asia. The country announced regulation for ICOs — initial coin offerings — last year and it is said to be considering moves to loosen those rules. That, combined with licensed exchanges, could appeal to those who seek “regulatory havens” in light of China’s ban on crypto and increased activity from the SEC in the U.S.

But Thailand is up against stiff competition to attract blockchain projects and talent.

Singapore has established itself as a global hub for ICOs, while it has a wider pool of developers than most of Southeast Asia. Japan was the first to regulate crypto exchanges — there are currently more than a dozen licensed and the exchange industry has been granted self-regulatory status — while Vietnam had made its name as blockchain talent hub with China’s Huboi and Quoine, the parent company of the Liquid exchange, among the companies operating local offices.

Hong Kong has also said in the last year that it may license exchanges, now that it has another model to look at for ideas.

Note: The author owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.