Thailand has set itself the goal of becoming an important regional center for blockchain, thanks in large part to the government that has promoted several initiatives to facilitate the growth of the local blockchain ecosystem and implement technology in areas such as voting and tax compliance .
From the beginning of the year, the Thai government has been increasingly explicit and welcoming in the cryptocurrency and blockchain projects. In just a few months, regulators have taken giant steps in taking the blockchain and cryptocurrency, developing a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency activities and the first coin offerings (ICOs) in an effort to encourage investment and attract foreign companies .
In June, the government legalized seven cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin cash, Ethereum classic, Litecoin, Ripple and Stellar, and also allowed a limited number of cryptocurrency exchanges and broker-dealers to request operational licenses.
In July, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enabled additional digital token issuers to file applications and classify ICOs into three types: investment tokens, utility tokens, and cryptocurrency. Token issuers must request approval with the Thai SEC to operate in the realm.
"This is definitely a positive direction for the crypto-currency and blockchain technology in Thailand, since the space is legitimized by regulators", Topp Jirayut Srupsrisopa, co-founder and CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitkub and former CEO of important Thai Bitcoin exchange. co.th, he told Asia Times in September. "This will encourage an influx of traditional investors and more institutional money will go to the cryptocurrency sector in Thailand".
Thuntee Sukchotrat, co-founder of the Crypto Jibex portfolio service, told Tech in Asia that the increase in regulations was the first step in "recognizing cryptocurrency as a legal and acceptable financial means in Thailand".
Sukchotrat sees cryptocurrencies as "legally recognized" soon, taking into account their "scope of application" [to be] expanded … [helping] position Thailand as a hub for financial innovation. "It foresees the widespread acceptance of cryptocurrencies within five years in Thailand.
The clear and explicit ICO and cryptocurrency guidelines of Thailand have already attracted several foreign companies looking for business opportunities in the country.
The Philippine startup Coins.ph launched its Thai bitcoin exchange Coins.co.th in 2014 to meet the growing demand for Bitcoin in the country. The startup says it wants to become "the Coinbase of Southeast Asia".
At the beginning of July, Bithumb, the second largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, announced its intention to open in Thailand after having received the approval of the Thai government.
IBM and Krungsri, one of Thailand's largest financial institutions, announced a $ 140 million five-year commitment in July to support the bank's future roadmap and focus on digital banking, including blockchain technology.
At the start of this year, Swiss payment startup Rapidzpay collaborated with Thailand's major Cineplex to enable customers to purchase cinema services and products using cryptocurrencies.
Thailand to implement blockchain
The Thai government has not only been open to foreign cryptocurrency startups, but has also actively sought to integrate cryptocurrency and blockchain, pushing itself to the point of planning a digital currency of the central bank (CBDC) by 2019.
The Bank of Thailand, together with eight commercial banks, is currently developing a prototype platform for transfers of domestic funds using the new cryptocurrency. The consortium is using the R3 distributed distribution accounting platform to develop the technology.
In July, Thai SEC enabled the Thai Bond Market Association to create a registrar bond service platform for corporate bond transactions using blockchain technology.
Separately, the kingdom's revenue department is exploring the use of blockchain and machine learning to curb tax avoidance.
The general manager Ekniti Nititprapas said at the beginning of this month that the department will use the blockchain to verify if the taxes have been correctly paid and to speed up the process of tax reimbursement. In the meantime, machine learning will be used to study how taxes are evaded, allowing revenue officials to efficiently monitor tax fraud and create greater transparency.
But perhaps one of the most important recent developments regarding Thailand's blockchain technology adoption is the electoral vote that took place this month. The move has made the Thai Democratic Party the first political party in the world to use blockchain in a live electronic voting system.
Using a blockchain platform based on open source Zcoin cryptocurrency, more than 120,000 members of the oldest political party in the kingdom voted for their leader through voting posts equipped with Raspberry Pi devices and a mobile voting app that required voters to send your identity document.
All data, including identification documents and voting, have been encrypted and stored on a decentralized and distributed file storage system. The file hashes were then stored on the Zcoin blockchain, which functioned as an immutable database and provided audibility.
Featured image: Bangkok, Thailand, Pixabay.