KEY POINTS

  • Thailand approves its sixth digital asset exchange licensee
  • Thailand has different classifications for crypto platforms and digital assets
  • License crypto platforms are financial institutions in Thailand

The Securities Exchange Commission of Thailand has granted a license to ERX trading platform to operate as a digital asset exchange, thus increasing the number of crypto exchanges in the country to six and the number of crypto platforms to 13. 

The other digital asset exchanges in the country are Bitkub, BX, Huobi, Zipmex, and Satang Pro. The Royal Decree on Digital Asset Businesses of 2018 defines a digital asset exchange as a center for trading digital assets, operating by matching orders or by facilitating a person to enter into an agreement to buy a digital asset. BX is in the process of returning its licenses after discontinuing its service.

Digital assets may be cryptocurrency or digital token. Cryptocurrency can be used as a medium exchange created through an electronic system while digital token specifies the right of a person to participate in an investment or to a specific good or specific service. Of the six digital exchanges, only ERX does not deal with cryptocurrencies.

The three digital asset brokers licensed in the country are Coins TH, Bitazza, and Kulap. The SEC defines a digital asset broker as those who provide services dealing with "the holding or exchanging digital assets" outside a digital asset exchange. The main difference is that the digital asset exchange licensee can operate an order-book style trading platform. Of the three licensed digital asset brokers, Kulap is not yet operational while Coins TH only deals with cryptocurrencies and not with digital tokens.

Coins TH is also listed as a digital asset dealer, which is similar to the digital asset broker except that it can provide exchange and trade of digital assets for its own account. 

SEC also listed four initial coin offerings (ICO) portals - Longroot, T-Box, SE Digital, and BiTherb. ICO portals are defined as a place for offering newly issued digital tokens. Of the four listed portals, only BiTherb is not operating. 

The clarity of cryptocurrency regulation in Thailand made the country an ideal place for exchanges to set up operations in Southeast Asia. Huobi Thailand, for example, is the local platform for global exchange Huobi. Coins TH is the Thai platform of Philippine-based Coins.ph (now acquired by Indonesian unicorn Go-Jek). 

The royal decree effectively classifies all crypto platforms as financial institutions. This classification allows the crypto platforms to partner with traditional institutions but also be hailed accountable and subjected to Thailand’s laws. For example, when Cash2Coins failed to secure a license for insufficient Know-Your-Customer (KYC) rules, it discounted its services within months.

A monk walks in front of a giant Buddha statue wearing a face mask at Wat Nithet Rat Pradit temple in Pathum Thani outside Bangkok A monk walks in front of a giant Buddha statue wearing a face mask at Wat Nithet Rat Pradit temple in Pathum Thani outside Bangkok Photo: AFP / Mladen ANTONOV