Business 4 December 2018

Paul How

Thailand tests blockchain-tracked VAT payments

Thailand’s Revenue Department has begun tests for tracking value-added tax (VAT) payments through blockchain.

The Bangkok Post said that the test VAT payments are being done in the department’s innovation laboratory. If successfully implemented for actual government operations, the country would become the first to be able to probe tax cases via distributed ledger technology.

Department Director-General Ekniti Nitithanprapas had first announced the initiative last month, which he said would make the agency’s investigations more efficient and accurate, with immutable data on the blockchain having to reconcile with each other. Specifically, the department wants to avoid issuing VAT refunds based on erroneously submitted or fabricated data.

Aside from blockchain, the department is exploring the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) so as to better detect fraudulent practices, which Ekniti said would encourage more people to properly declare taxes.

Among other blockchain-related initiatives of the Thai government is the creation of a wholesale Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), running on the R3 Corda platform, and overseen by the Bank of Thailand (BoT), the country’s central bank. Issuance of the digital government currency would be to “enhance efficiency of the Thai financial market infrastructure.”

Another BoT project is the use of blockchain for selling scripless government savings bonds.

As part of the Thai government’s growing awareness of blockchain in the economy, it has moved for better oversight to prevent fraud, with the issuance of a royal decree last May requiring cryptocurrency-related companies to register with local authorities.

In connection with this, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission recently advised investors to not trade with the Q cryptocurrency exchange, due to its lack of a license as a “digital business operator.”

Blockchain has been used elsewhere for other government processes, specifically, elections. It was announced last week that South Korea’s National Election Commission was collaborating with the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT in testing out a blockchain-powered surveying system that could eventually be used to count votes nationwide.

Similar systems have been implemented in the South Korean province of Gyeonggi-do and the Japanese city of Tsukuba, which have been able to hold referendums on local community programs. The U.S. states Maine and West Virginia have also seen proposals for blockchain-powered elections.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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