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Thailand Opens to Crypto as SEC Approves Seven Exchanges

Nations across Asia have been pretty mixed with their approach to cryptocurrencies. Governments in the region tend to be more autocratic where the notion of free trade, decentralization, and power to the people is abhorrent to many of them.

Thailand, which is currently in the grips of a military dictatorship, is taking an unexpected favorable stance towards cryptos as the Securities and Exchange Commission announced their approval of several exchanges in the Kingdom.

According to yesterday’s Thai SEC announcement seven crypto exchanges have been approved for legal operations. The exchanges include BX Thailand (Bitcoin Co. Ltd), the country’s leading exchange which handles $2.3 million in trade volume per day. Additionally Bitkub Online Co. Ltd, Cash2coins Co. Ltd, TDAX (Group Co. Ltd), and Coin Asset Co. Ltd were approved for trading.

Two cryptocurrency dealers: Coins TH Co. Ltd and Digital Coin Co. Ltd (ThaiWM) were also approved by the regulator. According to the Digital Management Act, which came into effect in May, operators were still allowed to permit trading for three months until the final decision was made. Two further digital asset operators that had submitted applications were also under review.

Secretary General of the SEC, Rapee Sucharitakul, stated;

“Investors should check whether the business is listed by the SEC before investing in high-risk digital assets. Operators who are not listed but wish to operate a digital asset business can apply for a license from the SEC. They will be able to carry on business only if they are licensed by the Ministry of Finance.”

Earlier this month Thailand’s central bank released a circular outlining their policies on cryptocurrencies and back tracking on a previous ruling that prevented financial institutions getting involved in crypto. Last week the SEC revealed that over 50 ICO projects were interested in operating in the country as regulations are made clearer.

The SEC also recently approved seven cryptocurrencies for use in ICOs and trading pairs within the country. The ruling junta had previously proposed a heavy taxation of 22% to be levied on crypto profits and trades. The move came under scrutiny from business leaders and the 7% VAT on all trades was waived however the 15% capital gains tax on profits remains in place but has yet to be enforced.

After a negative start to the year Thailand finally appears to be warming to crypto which will keep it competing with South Korea and Singapore.

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Regulatory Progress: Philippines to Regulate Crypto and License 25 Exchanges

The country of the Philippines was thrust into the global limelight when President Rodrigo Guterte came into power in 2016. The tough, no nonsense former Mayor of Davao City had promised to clean up the country and wasted no time on his war on drugs. The country has once again grabbed the global spotlight by being one of the first to draft cryptocurrency regulations as well as planning to issue licenses to cryptocurrency exchanges.

News coming in from the Philippines indicate that the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) is the government body that has been tasked with drafting rules to safeguard cryptocurrency investors in the country as well as issue the said licenses to a maximum of 25 crypto exchanges. The country, through CEZA, has plans on becoming a fintech hub in not only Asia, but the entire world.

Originally, CEZA had stated it would license only 10 exchanges but the increase in number could be as a result of the government listening to the general popular opinion and sentiments in the country. Initially, the country’s authorities were cracking down on Bitcoin traders as well as mining activities but this stance has since eased with the current news of CEZA drafting crypto regulation.

The CEO and Administrator of CEZA, Raul Lambino is quoted as saying the following when the licenses to be offered were initially only 10:

We are about to license 10 platforms for cryptocurrency exchange. They are Japanese, Hong Kong, Malaysians, Koreans. They can go into cryptocurrency mining, initial coin offerings, or they can go into exchange. The exchange of fiat money into virtual currency, and vice versa, should be done offshore to avoid infringing Philippine regulations.

He would later add that:

Each crypto exchange will be required to invest at least USD1 million or around PHP53 million within two years and it must have a back office in the Philippines. Firms must also be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lambino would later clarify the issuance of licenses in the following statement:

Although CEZA will only issue 25 licenses, each exchange will have 20 to 30 sub-licenses for traders and brokers.

Philippines joins a list of countries that are slowly but surely embracing crypto regulation. They include Thailand, Malta, Indonesia, South Korea, the UAE and the American SEC which has so far only given direction with regards to Bitcoin and Ethereum. Once the global regulatory hurdles are complete, crypto investors can relax and enjoy what they love doing: trading and investing in ICOs.

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