Cover Story: A Fugitive Businessman’s High-Profile Bet in Myanmar

Little public information is available about She outside company documents, which often portray him as a leading entrepreneur and philanthropist.

A high-profile investment project in Myanmar backed by a reclusive Chinese businessman who has done business under at least four names fell under scrutiny for allegations of illegal gambling operations, bringing to light the investor’s shady business history.

At the center of the controversy is an ambitious $15 billion project called Yatai City that aims to turn a quiet Myanmar border village into a Singapore-like business hub, according to public information. The main architect of what’s also known as the Myanmar Yatai Shwe Kokko Special Economic Zone is a 38-year-old expatriate Chinese businessman who goes by the name She Kailun and three others, based on Caixin reporting.

She, the chairman of Yatai International Holding Group, is the honorary president of several Chinese chambers of commerce in Southeast Asian countries and a leading figure in the overseas Chinese community in the region. Little public information is available about She outside company documents, which often portray him as a leading entrepreneur and philanthropist.

But a Caixin examination of court and public documents showed that She had a stained business track record in China and is listed by a court as a fugitive from illegal gambling charges.

His Yatai City is a massive commercial project located in a small town on the Moei River in Kayin State, bordering Thailand. Developed by Hong Kong-registered Yatai International since 2017, the project is planned to cover 12,000 hectares. Yatai City is billed as an industrial and entertainment complex that will accommodate a vast range of services including tourism, commerce, logistics, finance and technology development.

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Located in a border town in Myanmar, the Yatai City project is falsely described as an industrial and entertainment complex under China’s Belt and Road initiative.

In marketing documents, Yatai City is described as part of the China, Thailand and Myanmar Economic Corridor regional development plan and a model project under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.

But in reality, Yatai City has nothing to do with the government-backed Belt and Road Initiative and doesn’t involve any direct investment from China, according to China’s embassy in Myanmar. The Chinese government has never allowed domestic investors to participate in overseas gambling projects, the embassy said.

Moreover, the Myanmar government is investigating it for illegal cross-border gambling after local media questioned the legality of Yatai City’s business operations. Several international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have cited Yatai City as a major backer of illegal cross-border gambling in Myanmar.

According to a report by Myanmar-based Karen Peace Support Network, a number of online and offline gambling facilities have been operated in Yatai City, sparking local residents’ concerns over money laundering and other crimes.

Public documents show that She is from the landlocked province of Hunan in south central China and later developed businesses in several Southeast Asian countries. He was little known by overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia until he appeared in Myanmar with the Yatai City project in 2017. She then became an active figure in Chinese business circles in Myanmar and Cambodia and was named the leader of several organizations of overseas Chinese businesspeople.

Several people with knowledge of Yatai City told Caixin that while the project is marketed as a smart industrial park, it is actually a hub of casinos that moved from the Philippines and Cambodia amid local crackdowns. There are several online gambling sites operating in Yatai City that target users from China, they said.

She declined Caixin’s request for comment. A person close to him said She wants to stay low-key amid recent disputes.

A new city for casinos

A Chinese developer who invested tens of millions of yuan to build offices and residential buildings in Yatai City since 2019 said there are “all kinds of” gambling services inside the industrial park.

A local worker at Yatai City also said there are many online gambling companies located in the city offering gambling-related online games.

Caixin found that between October and December 2017, Yatai City published a large number of recruitment ads on its Facebook page, looking for Chinese-speaking customer service staffers and offering generous pay. A person close to the matter said the hiring was mainly for gambling services.

A list of companies published by Yatai City earlier this year showed several companies sharing the same name with Cambodia-based gambling companies.

In August 2019, the Cambodia government issued a policy banning online gambling, propelling a large number of gambling operators in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, many involving Chinese investments, to seek new shelters. Almost at the same time, Yatai City launched an intensive marketing campaign to lure businesses to settle in the park.

The Chinese developer said the location of Yatai City allows visitors to easily travel between Myanmar and Thailand and Cambodia. Meanwhile, the region doesn’t share a border with China, leaving the business out of the scrutiny of the Chinese government.

According to records in Myanmar, Yatai International registered its Myanmar operation in 2017 with $1.24 million. She Zhi Jiang, a Cambodian Chinese, was identified as the largest shareholder. Two other shareholders include a Malaysian citizen and a Myanmar military officer.

Caixin learned from separate sources that She Zhi Jiang is a former name of She Kailun.

In addition to online gambling services, Yatai City also hosts at least three casinos serving local and overseas customers, local media reported. A local NGO source said there are also certain areas in Yatai City that are strictly guarded to allow entrance of only special guests.

Such practice violates Myanmar law. Although the Myanmar government allows overseas investors to operate casinos, the practice is banned in certain regions including where Yatai City is located.

Yatai City also claimed to adopt blockchain technology provided by a Singapore-based company to allow users to communicate, exchange currency and make transactions. The service, known as Fincy, also offers online wealth management and gaming services.

A blockchain expert said such services offer a shadowy channel to funnel funds to gambling platforms while skirting foreign exchange oversight.

Business registration records in Singapore showed that BCB, the company operating Fincy, is registered with the same address as a company controlled by She.

The man with four names

Myanmar business registration records showed that Myanmar Yatai International is majority controlled by She Zhi Jiang, a China-born Cambodian citizen. But according to marketing documents of Yatai City, the boss of the project is She Kailun, identified as a Chinese Cambodian. Caixin found that the two names belong to the same person, who is also known as Tang Kailun or Tang Kriang Kai.

According to a 2018 report published by a journal backed by the China Federation of Overseas Chinese Entrepreneurs (CFOCE), one of the leading business organizations of overseas Chinese, She was born in the countryside of Hunan and moved to southern China’s Guangxi in 1996. After trying dozens of jobs, She made a fortune from developing online games and then went to Manila for new business opportunities.

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She Kailun

There is little information about She’s business in the Philippines. But documents from a Chinese court shed light on shady dealings. In 2014, a court in Shandong convicted a man named She Zhi Jiang for operating an illegal lottery business in the Philippines targeting Chinese online users, making illegal gains of 2.2 billion yuan. She remained a fugitive while eight of his accomplices were sentenced to jail for 15 to 24 months, according to the court documents.

The birthday and photo on the documents show that She Zhi Jiang is She Kailun.

Public information showed that She in 2014 registered a company called Chong Hua General Enterprises in the Philippines. The next year, a local newspaper reported that 154 foreign nationals employed by Chong Hua were deported by Philippine authorities for involvement in illegal online gambling. Chong Hua was fined 4.4 million pesos ($91,000) for the violations.

In January 2017, She obtained Cambodian citizenship and changed his name to Tang Kriang Kai, according to Cambodian government records. The same month, She registered Yatai International in Hong Kong with HK$100 ($13).

Since 2017, She became more active in public using the name She Kailun and earned nearly a dozen social titles.

In September 2017, She made a high-profile appearance at the annual World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention in Yangon, Myanmar, during which he signed the agreement with local authorities to develop Yatai City. In December that year, She was named vice chairman of the CFOCE. She has repeatedly linked Yatai City with China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Yu Xinqi, a leader of the Chinese community in Thailand who has known She for three years, said She managed to set up connections with many overseas entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, including CFOCE chairman Zhong Baojia, and used such connections to expand his business reach.

Public information showed that Yatai International had business dealings with Chinese state-owned companies including China Railway 20 Bureau Group and China National Real Estate Development Group. At the same time, She won more honorary titles in overseas Chinese communities through sponsorships and by making generous donations.

But some people questioned She’s rise and the funding source of Yatai City. Several Chinese business leaders in the Philippines accused She of doing shady deals that damage the image of overseas Chinese entrepreneurs.

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Yatai International’s office in Beijing was vacant in September. Photo: Caixin/Cai Yingli

Since 2019, local media outlets and NGOs in Myanmar published a series of reports questioning Yatai City’s business operations. In July, the CFOCE removed She as vice chairman and revoked his membership amid the investigation of Yatai City.

In August, the Chinese embassy in Myanmar issued a statement saying that the project “is a third-country investment and has nothing to do with the Belt and Road Initiative.”

A Caixin visit to Yatai International’s office in downtown Beijing in late September found an empty room. The manager of the building said the office was vacant for nearly three weeks, but the lease was still valid.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bobsimison@caixin.com).

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New Executive Board at PATA

… Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK); Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Oliver Martin, Partner …

Soon-Hwa Wong has been formally endorsed as the Chair of the e Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Executive Board and replaces Dr. Chris Bottrill who was elected Chair in May 2018 and remains a member of the Executive Board as Immediate Past Chair.

On his appointment, Soon-Hwa said, “It is indeed an honour to be given the privilege to serve PATA members, especially in a time like this. PATA will celebrate a significant milestone, our 70th Anniversary, next year. We are embarking on a comprehensive organisation redesign that will transform PATA into an association that will lead the tourism industry into the post-Covid future and beyond. Together with our industry partners from both the public and private sector, we will commit to sustainable tourism development to benefit the economic well-being of the community at large. Come join us in our journey to build a safer and better world.”

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Top Row: L/R: Soon-Hwa Wong, Chair – PATA and CEO – AsiaChina Pte Ltd., Singapore; Hai Ho, Vice Chair – PATA and CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, Secretary/Treasurer – PATA and President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Dr. Chris Bottrill, Immediate Past Chair – PATA and Director – International, Capilano University, Canada; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; and Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China. Bottom Row: L/R: Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK); Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada; Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore; Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China; and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand.

Soon Hwa has some 40 years of extensive experience in the Asia Pacific tourism and hospitality industry. After a long and successful corporate career, he founded Asia Tourism to provide advisory and consulting services to commercial and not-for-profit enterprises. He recently set up AsiaChina, primarily focusing on the two-way tourism flow between China and the APAC region. As part of paying it forward, he is also providing pro-bono services in mentoring start-ups and university students in his alma mater in addition to serving in several social committees.

He started the Hertz Asia Pacific office in Singapore in 1993. As Vice President – Asia, he built a comprehensive regional network, reinforcing Hertz ‘s position as global market leader. He spent 3 years in Shanghai from 2007 to 2010 and opened the first 100% foreign owned car rental company in China. After Hertz, as Regional Director – Asia Pacific, he helped Blacklane GmbH establish the APAC regional office in Singapore and built a service network covering some 80 cities. Blacklane is a new tech professional chauffeur drive service provider offering rides in some 300 cities and 60 countries globally. Prior to joining Hertz, he was Regional Manager – South East Asia for Air New Zealand.

A Bachelor of Business Administration graduate of the National University of Singapore, he is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK and attended the Stanford Executive Program. Soon Hwa’s long association with PATA dates back to 1996 and he has served in various capacities over the years. Presently serving as Chairman of the PATA Singapore Chapter, Soon Hwa is also the recipient of the PATA Life Member Award in 2018 and PATA Award of Merit in 2008.

During the PATA Board Meeting held virtually on Monday, October 12, 2020, PATA also elected six new members to its Executive Board including Hai Ho, CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada, and Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste.

Other Executive Board members include Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore, and Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK).

Hai Ho and Suman Pandey were elected as the new Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively.

Hai Ho said, “Being one of the youngest elected Vice Chair at an important organisation with a deep history like PATA is the biggest honour I have ever received. I take on this role to contribute my part to both PATA and the global sustainable travel movement which is growing with strength and resilience around the world. I am mindful that we are still living in a COVID-19 world where our fellow tour guides, travel agents, hoteliers, etc. are fighting against all odds to keep travellers safe and sound.

I am mindful that the world we are living in now, will not be the world we will live in tomorrow. Therefore, I remind myself every day to waste no time and seize any moment to learn from other PATA members, so that I can utilise my energy and knowledge to help our industry in any way I can contribute.”

Hai Ho is a high-impact entrepreneur and head of Triip, an unrivalled travel-cum-tech company incorporated in Singapore. He has 12 years of experience in high-growth firms building a range of tech products like payment gateway products, social networks, wearable hardware, community apps, and eBook apps to name a few. Hai’s experience in start-up creation and understanding in the global travel industry led him to create Triip.me, a platform that at its core is a network of accommodation and personalized tours made available to a broad audience of millions. The network’s competitive advantage is its ability for anyone around the world to create, execute and be paid for a tour using Triip.me. Through Triip’s tech-centric positioning and expertise, Hai has launched a first-to-market blockchain network called the Triip Protocol. Hai and his team are crafting a cryptocurrency that will enable travel service providers to connect directly with travellers in a new, decentralized marketplace that will drive down costs of both client acquisition and travel itself. Through the firm, Hai has advanced a sustainability-driven business philosophy of at the core of its vision. In four years, it’s created jobs for locals in 100 countries, which have made it a darling of a financial coverage in publications including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes and The Next Web. Triip was also one of 512 members of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics – a programme by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Suman Pandey is a well-known figure in Nepalese Tourism and President of Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, a well-known name for diverse and innovative operations. He is also the CEO of Fishtail Air, a Nepalese helicopter company; Director of Summit Air, a fixed wing operator catering to tourists going to the Mt. Everest area; Director of the biggest business complex in Nepal, “Chhaya Centre”, a multi-faceted Mega Complex that includes a five star managed by Starwood under the “Aloft” brand; President of the Himalaya Academy of Travel and Tourism, an academy imparting tourism related vocational trainings, and President of Himalayan Pre- Fab Pvt. Ltd, a company specializing on making eco-friendly prefabricated homes. His remarkable contributions in the Nepalese Tourism Industry have made him eligible for various titles and decorations including “Suprasidha Gorkha Dakshin Bahu” from the King of Nepal in 2004; “Tourism Icon” by the Nepal Association of Tourism Journalists in 2018; a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by tourism publication Gantabya Nepal in 2017; “Tourism Man of the year” by Gantabya Nepal in 2010; and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for contributions in tourism by the “American Biographical Institute” (ABI) based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA in 2008, to name a few.

Furthermore, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand have been appointed to the Executive Board as non-voting members.

The new Executive Board members were confirmed at the PATA Annual General Meeting held online on October 14, 2020.

depa Joins Forces with Partners to Organize Thailand Smart City Week 2020

Showcasing Digital Technologies to Steer People-Centric Smart City Development. BANGKOK, Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Digital Economy …

Showcasing Digital Technologies to Steer People-Centric Smart City Development

BANGKOK, Oct. 12, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa) led by President/CEO, Dr. Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, teams up with partners to hold a press conference on the launch of Thailand Smart City Week 2020 to exhibit of advanced digital technologies related to smart city development. For the first time in Thailand, it will be carried out in the Real Digital event under the REAL Solutions for REAL People in the REAL Smart Cities concept, where people will see a new smart city development vision through the adoption of advanced digital technologies in order to enhance sustainable urbanization. The event is expected to inspire smart city leaders to find digital-based solutions to develop smart cities with a central goal to create a magnificent milestone in smart city development in Thailand and ASEAN.

depa Joins Forces with Partners to Organize Thailand Smart City Week 2020, Showcasing Digital Technologies to Steer People-Centric Smart City Developmentdepa Joins Forces with Partners to Organize Thailand Smart City Week 2020, Showcasing Digital Technologies to Steer People-Centric Smart City Development

Planned activities are as follows:

1. Smart City PLAYS: Demonstration of digital technology and innovation adoption, showcasing innovations associated with smart city development. It aims to improve the quality of Thai society in collaboration with public and private sectors, including CU Smart City, Flower Labs solution at Pak Klong Talad, and Creator Space at True Digital Park.

2. Smart City LEARNS: Meet a range of experts who will share knowledge about smart city development through the use of digital innovations. There are training sessions and online seminars which will be streaming live via Facebook Live at Smart City Thailand Office.

3. Smart City HACKS: The event collaborates with Techsauce to launch Thailand Smart City Week 2020 Hackathon to provide people with an opportunity to find the right digital solutions to directly tackle the problems of the city to achieve the sustainability in smart urbanization.

4. Smart City MEETS: Exhibition of advanced digital technologies created to accelerate smart city development. They are innovated by the participating digital developers. It will be conducted through the Virtual Exhibition, which is the first full-scale in Thailand. It presents an ample opportunity for developers to succeed in business negotiations through real-time communication via online platforms in the new-normal style.

The event opens to the public free of charge for students and general people from October 16 – 22, 2020. Attending the event virtually can be made at scw.smartcitythailand.or.th or www.smartcitythailand.or.th or facebook.com/smartcitythailand. Any inquiries, contact Smart City Thailand Office, depa, Tel +66 2026 2333.

SOURCE The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), Thailand

Big data to keep Thai workers afloat

Big data analysis has made it clear that re-training the workforce to operate in the digital economy is an effective way to rescue workers from an …
Job seekers flock to a job fair in Phitsanulok province in search of work amid the Covid-19 crisis which has hit the economy hard.
Job seekers flock to a job fair in Phitsanulok province in search of work amid the Covid-19 crisis which has hit the economy hard.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit Thailand early this year, businesses have been falling like dominoes. Millions of people have lost their jobs in the country’s worst economic downturn in recent memory. Yet some jobs have survived the pandemic better than others.

Which are they? Why are they resilient to the crisis? What jobs will be in demand when the pandemic is over?

Knowing the answers will help the workforce and businesses adjust themselves to the new job landscape. It will also help the education system produce much-needed human resources for future job markets.

According to a study by Yongyuth Chalamwong, research director for Human Resource Policy, Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), the country’s unemployment rate is now the highest it’s been in the past 20 years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Business operators have also suffered as the economy looks set to get worse before it gets any better.

To prepare for the post-coronavirus job market, we need timely and accurate information. We need to have an accurate pulse on the current job market to detect its major trends. Conventional job surveys cannot deliver. But ploughing and analysing big data systematically can.

Since the TDRI is already engaging in research to build a database on job market needs with big data to support education reform, we have used this research to identify the jobs affected by the coronavirus pandemic and those that have survived.

Entitled “Building Labour Demand Database Using Online Job Posting Analysis (Big Data) to Promote Labour Market Responsiveness in the Education Sector”, the research is supported by EdTech Fund, Education Ministry. It started in 2018 when Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin was education minister.

To find out about the job situation during the pandemic, we used artificial intelligence to analyse big data from 12 job search websites. The findings are alarming.

During the first seven months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of job openings drastically declined by 69% compared with the same period from January to July last year. From 315,000 hirings, the number of job openings was down to only 95,000.

The monthly breakdown also shows that the number of job openings has declined steadily. From 20,007 jobs in January, it was 20,705 in February, 15,765 in March, 9,479 in April, 10,068 in May, 8,018 in June and 10,582 in July.

Interestingly, jobs related to science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) weren’t spared. The top five jobs affected by the pandemic are technicians (86%), civil engineers (80%), quality control analysts (79%), occupational health and safety specialists (78%) and electrical engineers (77%).

Meanwhile, the five least affected during the coronavirus pandemic are as follows: Information security analysts (6 percent), information technology-related jobs (17%), Business Intelligence Analysts (30%), Web Developers (35%) and computer systems engineers/architects (38%).

It is clear. Jobs in information technology (IT) are much less affected. This is not surprising. Thailand has long suffered a serious lack of IT personnel so they remain much in demand. The government, therefore, should launch re-training programmes to equip workers with IT skills so they can enter the job markets with decent earnings when the economy picks up.

Big data analysis has made it clear that re-training the workforce to operate in the digital economy is an effective way to rescue workers from an unemployment tsunami.

Using AI technology to analyse big data on job postings has many benefits for making timely job policies. Firstly, it provides an accurate picture of job market demands with exact details because the company recruits reflect the business needs more precisely.

Secondly, it delivers multidimensional analyses. For example, it categorises the job postings by occupations, educational requirements, fields of education as well as the employers’ industries and geographical locations. These types of information will help the government form job-related policies to meet real needs more effectively.

Thirdly, big data analysis brings to light the newly-emerging jobs that are in high demand. Regular job surveys cannot do this because the surveyors may not be aware of very new jobs such as robotic process automation (RPA) developers.

Lastly, it makes educational institutions more aware of the real job market needs so they can adjust their curriculum appropriately.

Before the coronavirus crisis, the country’s job landscape was already going through rapid changes due to technological disruption. The Covid-19 pandemic has made the changes even more drastic.

To cope with the challenges, workforces, businesses and the education sector need up-to-date information for their next moves. The government must answer such needs.

With unemployment steadily on the rise, the government must act fast to keep millions of workers afloat in the country’s worst economic crisis.

Policymakers can no longer depend on outdated data gathering methods to form policies. In a rapidly changing job landscape, big data analysis is now the way to go.


Winit Theanvanichpant is a researcher at the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI). Policy analyses from TDRI appear in the Bangkok Post on alternate Wednesdays.

Crypto Service Providers in Thailand Doubles in Twelve Months

Finally, the regulator has approved four Initial Coin Offering (ICO) portals — SE Digital, T-box, Bitherb, and Longroot. Bitherb is a joint venture between …

Thailand has been consistently growing as a country with an increasingly structured cryptocurrency space. This reputation appears to be well-founded, as the country is now attracting more companies in the industry.

What a Regulated Environment Can Achieve

Thailand made a splash in the crypto space when the government approved the Royal Decree on the Digital Asset Businesses B.E. 2561. The decree went into effect last May, and it provided definitions for digital assets, the business scope of digital currencies, and the scope of regulation, amongst others.

Amongst other things, this decree has now made it possible for companies to seek out licenses. Per reports, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has now approved 13 companies to act as digital asset service providers.

The companies include six cryptocurrency exchanges — Bitkub, EXR, Satang Pro, BX, Huobi Thailand, and Zipmex. The agency also approved three digital asset brokers — Bitazza, Coins TH, and Kulap. However, Coins TH is the only licensed dealer that appears to be operational.

Finally, the regulator has approved four Initial Coin Offering (ICO) portals — SE Digital, T-box, Bitherb, and Longroot. Bitherb is a joint venture between Japanese crypto exchange Bitcoin Japan and the Asia Herb Association Bangkok Co. Ltd, but it’s not yet functional.

Progress with the approvals has been quite impressive. This time last year, the Thai SEC had only approved five digital asset trading licenses — the agency approved Huobi Global on July 5, 2019.

Thailand Progresses With a CBDC

The success in Thailand’s private crypto sector is also matched by progress in the public space. With many countries on the verge of launching Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), Thailand is also working earnestly to do the same. The Bank of Thailand announced last month that it was moving ahead with a pilot program for a CBDC, claiming that it was working towards an asset that would function for large-scale enterprises.

As the official press release confirmed, the bank partnered with Siam Cement Group, Thailand’s largest provider of cement and building materials. Thai FinTech firm Digital Ventures Company Limited also participated in the pilot program.

The bank gave a progress report two weeks ago, with local English news source The Nation claiming in a report that it had successfully deployed the CBDC and was using it for large-scale business transactions.

Per the report, the Bank of Thailand has entered the third phase of developing its “digital Baht.” The bank now plans to expand it to include more businesses.

Most particularly, the bank has plans to collaborate with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, Hong Kong’s central banking institution, in September. The Bank of Thailand is also exploring the possibility of expanding the asset’s use to the general public to provide low-cost, real-time transaction functionalities. However, it believes that there will be some required study to explore the potential implications of a general-purpose CBDC.

The Bank of Thailand is reportedly following China’s blueprint, as they believe that Beijing’s rollout of its digital Yuan hasn’t had any side effects thus far.