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Thailand eyes broadening digital assets regulations to give central bank more oversight: report

The government of Thailand plans to broaden the digital assets regulatory framework. According to a Bloomberg report, the plan will make the Bank of Thailand (BOT) a second digital assets industry oversight body. 

In the current framework, which has been in place since 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the sole digital assets industry regulator. In an interview, Thailand’s Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith stated that this framework is not clear enough for the industry.

“Right now, the central bank has no room to enter into the regulatory framework except for notifying that cryptos are not a legal means of payment for goods and services. So the framework is not clear enough to regulate the industry,” he said. 

Compared with other markets, he highlighted that with stock exchanges “you have the paper to prove you are the owner.” The equivalent of this in the digital world is just the lax consent agreement that users never read. 

The Bank of Thailand Governor Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput added that the amendments would help draw more “red-lines” on digital assets. The SEC has been tasked with making the amendments that will overhaul the current framework. 

Thailand still looking to encourage digital assets innovation 

The government’s move is coming on the back of a digital assets market downturn that has roiled retail investors. Zipmex users in the country were suspended from withdrawing their assets as the SEC-regulated exchange ran into financial troubles. 

Zipmex has resumed withdrawals for most of its services and filed for a moratorium in Singapore to protect it from legal action from its creditors. The SEC has also opened investigations into the matter and called for affected users to file complaints but has been criticized for not acting more swiftly to protect investors.

Despite this, SEC is still keen on encouraging the digital assets industry. The commission has this month approved licenses for four more digital assets firms, bringing the total number of approved entities to 21, with more awaiting approval. 

Similarly, the BOT has continued to work on its central bank digital currency (CBDC) plans. Earlier this month, the central bank announced that it would begin a two-track limited-scale pilot testing of real-world applications for its retail CBDC. However, it clarified that it is still uncertain whether or not Thailand will launch the CBDC.

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