Thailand approves first ICO portal, fintech ties deepening

Thai financial regulators approved the first Initial Coin Offering (ICO) portal last week to screen and conduct due diligence on companies issuing digital shares, as they continued to embrace innovation and put the Kingdom at the forefront of financial technology (fintech) in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, fintech innovators in London welcomed a delegation of their counterparts from Thailand last week as the two communities sought to deepen their partnerships and ties. Regulators at the Bank of England also met with members of the Thai delegation.

One Thai delegate said the work of the Bank of England and British financial regulators “is agile with little bureaucracy. They seem to work in many ways like startup businesses.” British representatives told The Nation newspaper they were excited by Thailand’s dynamic fintech market and the openness of its regulators.

Fintech is at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and Thailand is eager to embrace this new and advanced technological world as part of its 20-year national strategy to achieve advanced development known as Thailand 4.0.

To that end, the first ICO portal authorized last week by Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is in the process of receiving official approvals from other relevant government agencies such as the Commerce Ministry, said Archari Suppiroj, director of the fintech department at the SEC.

Archari said that seven other companies have been in contact with the SEC seeking to establish ICO portals. “The first ICO deal will be available for public offering in the near future under the digital asset royal decree,” she said.

Companies are not yet allowed, however, to issue securities token offerings (STO), but the SEC is preparing guidelines for that and once they are approved companies will be able to apply for licenses to issue STOs.

“This will help bridge the digital asset royal decree and securities law. The next step is for an issuer to offer security tokens in the primary market,” said Archari.

The keys for those thinking of investing in ICOs are knowledge and understanding, such as knowing the rights of an asset, risks, and limitations, she said.

Jirayut Srupsrisopa, co-founder and chief executive at Bitkub Capital Group Holdings, said all assets could be digitized and tokenized with blockchain.