The surprise announcement earlier this week that the top bitcoin exchange in Thailand was closing down sent shock waves through the Asian crypto community. BX was one of the most popular exchanges in the region and speculation is growing as to why the company made the snap decision to suddenly axe a clearly profitable venture.
Thai SEC Too Demanding
Thailand has been open and welcoming to the blockchain and crypto industry so far but this latest development could severely dent its ambitions to become the fintech hub of Asia. On Monday, the company announced it will cease its operations at the end of this month to ‘focus on other business opportunities’.
The news came out of the blue and sent traders into a selling frenzy which dropped the price of Bitcoin by over 10% on the exchange. BX told its customers that they had a month to empty their accounts and move their assets elsewhere.
Rival crypto platforms such as Bitkub were overwhelmed with new signups, so much so that their own website went offline earlier this week. Many traders were still waiting for their identifications to be verified by the end of the week, and support tickets remained unanswered leaving them in limbo.
The Bangkok Post reported that speculation regarding the closure of the kingdom’s top crypto portal was increasing. It appears that the Thai SEC was demanding daily reports of all trading activity, a monumental workload for any company to handle. According to founder of Satang Corporation Co Ltd, Poramin Insom,
BX may be worried about providing customer information and trading information to the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] on a daily basis. The SEC does cross-check for prices of digital asset transactions every day.
There is also a growing fear that more stringent regulations are in the pipeline from the newly appointed government. However, there has yet to be any official announcements or crackdowns regarding crypto trading.
SEC IT adviser Bhume Bhumiratana, suggested that the closure could be because the firm does not want to be involved with highly regulated digital asset transactions, which could be inconvenient for some customers.
Rising Tide of Bureaucracy
Since taking power earlier this year in a highly questionable ‘election’, Thailand’s military backed leaders have become somewhat obsessed with reporting and bureaucracy. A country wide crackdown on the movements of the kingdom’s large expatriate community has been widely reported, and many are now seeking alternative countries to base themselves in as the once friendly nation becomes a police state.
The same may now start becoming the case for crypto startups and investors if the tide of bureaucracy keeps rising in Thailand as it takes more lessons from China.
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