Thailand mandates ‘in-person’ KYC for crypto traders

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Thailand’s crypto traders will be soon required to be physically present for opening an account at one of the many exchanges and wallet providers based in the country, local outlet Bangkok Post reported today.

A growing crypto market

The country is a small, but growing, crypto market. As per the local Securities and Exchange Commission, trading volumes grew to over $3.96 billion in 2021—from under $574.5 million in November 2020—amidst a broader demand for cryptocurrencies and a rising market.

But the concerns of scams, frauds, and illegalities remain due to the nature of space. And while limited ‘Know-Your-Customer’ (KYC) policies have, so far, been enforced in Thailand, none have been as drastic as today’s dictum.

As per the report, local crypto exchanges are due to mandatorily verify their customers’ identities through a “dip-chip” machine that requires their holders to be physically present. The move comes into effect in September 2021 and was a feature of the country’s gold and jewelry markets.

Transactions at any gold business in Thailand require the dip-chips by law. Some argue that the collected data aids in customer relationship management between businesses and clients—but others say it creates a lack of privacy.

Meanwhile, crypto businesses are to collate their questions and discuss the issue at a forum held by the Thailand Digital Asset Operators Trade Association, a self-regulated organization, later this year. 

The Association would further hold a dialogue with the Thai SEC and Anti Money-Laundering Office (Amlo).

What happens currently?

The current crop of Thai crypto exchanges holds KYC and AML checks in line with global standards, such as verifying personal identities and bank accounts. All such steps are conducted electronically.

This, however, takes time. Exchanges need to physically recheck and determine if documents submitted by customers comply with the SEC’s regulations for the know-your-customer (KYC) process and suitability test.

Meanwhile, some say the new regulations could cull the fast growth of Thailand’s crypto market. An estimated 697,780 cryptocurrency traders have accounts on local crypto exchanges as of April, a nearly six-fold increase from just 160,000 accounts last year.

“Most digital asset exchanges are still busy preparing their systems to accommodate the growing number of clients as new account applications continue to flow in,” stated Poramin Insom, founder of local crypto exchange Satang.

He ended, “However, this growth may be curbed if the application process becomes more complicated.”

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