Thai SEC forced to clarify proposed crypto rules after public backlash

Financial regulators in Thailand may adjust the minimum annual income qualification for crypto investors amid public outrage.

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission has walked back previous plans to enact a 1 million baht (about $33,000) minimum annual income requirement for crypto investment in the country.

According to a report by the Bangkok Post on Tuesday, the Commission has clarified that the previous draft document was published to gauge investor sentiment.

The Thai SEC backtracking comes amid outrage from crypto stakeholders in the country who bemoaned the proposed rule saying that it would exclude low and middle-income earners from the cryptocurrency market.

Clarifying the commission’s position of the matter, Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, secretary-general of the Thai SEC stated:

“I proposed the criteria that many considered too tough to prompt people to express their opinions on the matter and did not intend to say these are the exact qualifications that will be implemented.”

According to the SEC executive, the commission did not have any intention of setting a 1-million-baht annual income as a qualification standard for crypto investment.

In addition to clarifying its earlier position, the Thai SEC has also decided to hold its public hearing on crypto investments on Mar. 3 — three weeks earlier than initially announced. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the event was originally scheduled to take place on Mar. 24.

Back in February, Thailand’s finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith expressed concerns about the ongoing cryptocurrency speculative mania in the country. According to the finance minister, retail enthusiasm for virtual currency assets if not unchecked could have negative consequences for the country’s capital market.

Indeed, crypto trading volume in Thailand has grown in recent months from about $630 million in December 2020 to $2.17 billion in January 2021.

For the SEC secretary-general, the commission has the mandate to protect retail investors from the risks involved in crypto investment, stating, “If the SEC just stands by and does nothing, it would be totally our responsibility if investors lose on cryptocurrency.”

Thailand is one of the more highly regulated crypto trading markets with exchanges having to conform to strict regulatory standards. Bitkub — Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange — was forced to shut down by regulators for a few days in January after a series of lengthy service outages.

Mainstream financial establishments, as well as government agencies, are also showing significant involvement in the digital asset space. Siam Commercial Bank established a $50 million blockchain investment fund back in February.

The country’s tourism board is also looking to attract Japanese crypto holders as a way of boosting its hospitality sector.