Thailand has moved closer to being among one of the first jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region (and globally) to facilitate ICOs through targeted regulation. According to a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (“SEC”), as reported by the Bangkok Post, five ICO projects are to be cleared by the regulator and permitted to move forward with their ICO plans (out of 50 ICO projects that applied for regulatory approval).
This comes after two Thai laws regulating digital assets came into force on 14 May 2018. The first law regulates the offering of digital tokens and related businesses such as exchanges, brokering and dealing in digital assets (“First Law”). Current businesses in this space have 90 days to register for approval with the SEC to continue operating. A second law clarifying the taxation of income derived from digital assets has also come into force.
Interestingly the SEC’s advice portal acknowledges to the public that investments in ICOs overseas are outside the scope of Thailand’s First Law. This contrasts with other Asia-Pacific jurisdictions such as Australia which has been more protective of Australian investors, even those investing in ICO projects overseas. Under guidance published by the equivalent Australian regulator, an offer to Australian citizens would likely trigger Australian securities law.
As Asia-Pacific countries consider how (and whether) they will regulate digital assets, Thailand’s crypto market is maturing and whilst policy makers appear to be trying to ensure that investor protections are in place, they are certainty keen to remain facilitative towards investments in digital assets and fostering Thailand’s digital asset ecosystem. In particular, the statement by an SEC employee and enactment of Thai laws follows engagement between OmiseGO (a top 20 largest cryptocurrency at the time of writing) with Thailand’s Ministry of Finance. OmiseGO is presently in a partnership with Thailand McDonalds to provide payment services for McDonalds’ website and delivery app.