Coins has launched its second bitcoin startup in Southeast Asia with the formal opening of Coins.co.th in Thailand.
Led by CEO Ron Hose, Coins launched its Philippines-based bitcoin exchange and merchant processing service Coins.ph in March, at the time enrolling two larger merchants – MetroDeal and CashCashPinoy – in its services.
While coinciding with fewer supporting announcements, its entrance into Thailand’s market, however, may ultimately prove more telling for bitcoin’s progress in Asia as a whole.
Coins.co.th has been exchanging baht and bitcoin in Thailand since its soft launch in June, when it received its e-commerce registration from the Huay Khwang District Office. A report by Bangkok Post states that the district office has deemed bitcoin as a form of commodities trading, clearing the way for the company’s regulatory approval.
Jaturong Jantarangs, the Bank of Thailand’s senior director of the payment systems policy department, reportedly told the media outlet that trading bitcoins for baht does not require approval or a license from the central bank.
As such, Coins.co.th claims that its exchange is now ‘fully legal’ under Thai law.
The move can be seen as a positive sign for bitcoin’s progress in Asia, given that the Bank of Thailand was widely believed to have banned bitcoin in 2013. The determination also follows statements from the Bank of Thailand issued in March that suggested it did not consider bitcoin a currency.
While it is not being treated as a money services business, Coins.co.th indicated that it does need to follow related laws such as Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code and Consumer Protection Act, as well as its anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
Topp Jirayut Srupsrisopa, who will manage Coins.co.th, added that he expects bitcoin’s legal situation in Thailand to become more clear over time, as local regulators learn more about the market and its potential.
Bitcoin Co. Ltd, the first Thailand-based digital currency exchange, further told CoinDesk that it continues to operate in Thailand despite the regulatory uncertainty, and that after its issues with the central bank earlier this year, has received e-commerce licenses for both Bitcoin.co.th and BX.in.th, its two exchange services.
Still, it reports communication with the central bank has been scarce. As managing director David Barnes, told CoinDesk:
“We have not had any recent conversations with Bank of Thailand since around the beginning of the year.”
Empowering Thailand’s workforce
For now, Coins.co.th will continue to allow users in Thailand to pay for bitcoin using their bank accounts, or by paying cash at any major Thai bank.
Hose framed the announcement as one that would help the company bring the benefits of bitcoin to the local Thai e-commerce market, which has struggled to develop sophisticated online payments that could enable growth.
Stressing benefits of bitcoin for local users and the future of his exchange, Hose said:
“Bitcoin can be an easy alternative to bank accounts and credit cards for people who cannot access those tools which fills a huge gap in financial service needs in emerging markets such as Thailand.”
Citing the growth of BX.in.th, Barnes concluded:
“We are very optimistic about the future of Bitcoin in Thailand.”
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