Thailand plans new curbs on cryptocurrency

BANGKOK: Thailand plans to introduce new rules to curb individuals’ cryptocurrency trading after a surge in inflows from young people sparked concern from regulators.

Retail investors will probably be required to show their income or assets before opening trading accounts with the nation’s six licensed cryptocurrency exchanges, said Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, the secretary-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Anyone who isn’t allowed to trade crypto via their own accounts can invest through licensed fund managers or financial advisers, she said, declining to elaborate.

“It’s a big concern as most crypto investors on domestic exchanges are very young, such as students and teenagers, ” Ruenvadee said in an interview.

“We realise those people love innovation and technology, but investments in these assets have enormous risk.”

Thai authorities are joining other countries’ regulators in warning about cryptocurrencies, even as price rallies draw retail investors searching for higher returns amid record low interest rates.

Bitcoin, the largest token, has added more than US$450bil of value in 2021 and reached US$1 trillion in market capitalisation for the first time last week.

The regulator will reveal new proposed rules on cryptocurrency trading this week before holding a public hearing in early March, said Ruenvadee. Officials will evaluate recommendations and suggestions from crypto exchange operators, brokerages and other related parties before finalising the limitations, she said.

The new rules may also require individual investors to possess some knowledge of crypto markets before being allowed to open accounts to trade them, said Ruenvadee.

Trading of cryptocurrencies on the nation’s licensed bourses more than tripled in January from the previous month to 65 billion baht (US$2.17bil), according to SEC data. More than 90% of trading came from Thai citizens, it said.

South-East Asia’s second-biggest economy will probably see its first initial coin offering by a local company in the first half, said Ruenvadee.

The new token will be backed by rental revenue of properties, she said, without giving more details. — Bloomberg

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