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Thailand is Emerging as a Blockchain Hub

When one thinks of budget travel, the weather, the nightlife and the adventure aspect and much more, the dream destination Thailand is always on one’s mind. Thailand the “Land of Smiles”,  is known for the tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. But, there is more to Thailand that the world must now be aware of. Thailand is a newly industrialized country with exports accounting for more than two-thirds of its GDP. Recently Thailand seems to have a new interest focus which is growing rapidly.

Thailand 4.0“, a sector-specific industrial policy that aims to attract new investment towards transforming the economy has gained global attention. Thailand 4.0 was unveiled by the junta in May 2016, as an economic model that aims to rescue the country from several economic challenges resulting from past economic development models which placed emphasis on agriculture (Thailand 1.0), light industry (Thailand 2.0), and advanced industry (Thailand 3.0). These challenges include “a middle-income trap”, “an inequality trap”, and “an imbalanced trap”.

“Thailand’s shadow economy ranks globally among the highest,” according to Friedrich Schneider, an economist at Johannes Kepler University of Linz in Austria.

Thailand has emerged as one of the most interesting development hub for cryptocurrencies and blockchain in Southeast Asia in 2018. While the world is yet to decide the category for cryptocurrencies and digital asset, the Thai government has welcomed the cryptocurrency projects and exchanges. The University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) recently forecast that the total value of the country’s digital economy will reach 3.15 trillion baht in 2018, up 24.6% year-on-year. This shows that the nation is strategically positioned to become Southeast Asia’s next blockchain hub after Singapore.

One of Thailand’s leading banks, the Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), is also partnering with Japan’s SBI Remit to enable real-time remittance payments between Japan and Thailand. The partnership is built on Ripple’s platform, which reduces the remittance transaction time from 2 days to no more than 5 seconds. Along with this, in collaboration with IBM, 14 banks have come together to form Thailand Blockchain community initiative which will streamline letters of guarantee via a shared trade finance platform.

The Thai regulators have made notable growth from setting up licenses for the cryptocurrencies to permitting exchanges and ICOs. The nation has also attracted foreign companies by providing clear and explicit guidelines for foreign blockchain companies to operate. The blockchain followers and thinkers need to look into it as they think about global expansion.

The regulators all around the world are keen to understand how a small country like Thailand can grow so quickly in the blockchain space, it’s decisive to understand the strategy of regulators and local companies. Most Asian blockchain companies and exchanges work with local regulators right from the beginning. These teams use formal and informal ways to get buy-in from their respective local government in order to bolster their credibility. This pattern is particularly true for Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand.

Part of that speed is that in Thailand, regulators have shown an openness to knowledge exchange. For example, recently the Thailand SEC held a dialogue with Vitalik Buterin and the OmiseGo team on the status of exchanges and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). For Thailand, having a local, knowledgeable, and well-established team such as Omise is very helpful in building a clear regulatory environment for companies.