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Thailand prepares for cryptocurrency challenges

Thailand is moving toward a cashless society. Bank notes and coins are set to become obsolete while transactions via electronic payments have increased over recent years.

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The plan to launch a new currency next year is ambitious and controversial, as Libra is scrutinized by central banks around the globe, including the US Federal Reserve.

The cryptocurrency concept is not far-fetched, as evidenced by the success of Bitcoin. It is a result of an evolving monetary system, which is moving toward digital payment systems backed by blockchain technology.

Thailand is moving toward a cashless society. Bank notes and coins are set to become obsolete while transactions via electronic payments have increased over recent years.

Thai reaction

This week, Facebook’s executives are scheduled to testify before the US Congress about the Libra project, while Thailand’s financial regulatory bodies are also working to get ready for Libra.

The Bank of Thailand has set up a special team to study Facebook’s “stable coin” and its 12-page white paper, while scheduling a meeting with Facebook in Thailand to get more details about the project.

At present, there is no Thai law with direct jurisdiction over cryptocurrencies or Libra. The closest one may be the Royal Decree on Digital Asset Business B.E.2561 (2018), which brings digital assets and operations of crypto exchanges and intermediaries under the purview of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The current digital asset degree may not have direct authority over cryptocurrency, but it has jurisdiction over digital token investment and intermediaries involved in the exchange of crypto assets in Thailand.

The SEC’s senior officials said they are working with the central bank to determine the implications of Libra.

The introduction of the new cryptocurrency will impact banking operations, especially cross-border money transfers. If the Libra Association can form a global network to accept the new currency, it can offer money transfer services without intermediaries and at a lower cost.

Thailand offers the possibility of mass adoption of the new currency because the country has around 50 million registered Facebook users.

Commercial banks in Thailand are also studying the details of Libra, fearing that they may fail keep up with the latest developments.

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