Bitcoin firm licensed to trade in baht despite legal gray area
By Pathom Sangwongwanich, Bangkok Post/MCT
August 19, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
Another bitcoin trading company has emerged as a legally registered entity in Thailand after obtaining e-commerce registration with a local district office in June, with its digital currency trade restricted to baht. The registration was obtained despite doubts over the legality of the virtual currency.
Coins (Thailand) began its service early this year after it was awarded with an e-commerce registration license by Huay Khwang District Office on June 20 after hiring a local legal advisory team to comply with Thailand's rules and regulations concerning e-commerce, said Ron Hose, the Philippines-based chief executive officer and founder of Coins Co.
The District Office considers the company's bitcoin trading operations a form of commodity trade rather than currency. Mr. Hose insisted on its legitimacy in operating the business, adding that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has also treated digital currencies as a property for tax purposes.
Set up in 2013, the company's headquarters are based in Singapore but its technological development office is located in the Philippines. Its bitcoin began trading in the Philippines in January and Thailand in June.
The company has become the second bitcoin exchange service provider in Thailand after Bitcoin Co obtained approval for its digital currency business, according to the CoinTelegraph website.
But the Bank of Thailand issued a letter to Bitcoin, saying the foreign currency exchange cannot be done without an operating license granted by the central bank. Bitcoin, therefore, announced that it would provide exchange service only in Thai baht.
That is why Coins is trading only in baht, with no foreign currencies involved in the firm's digital currency trade since day one, said Mr. Hose.
"The letter that the Bank of Thailand sent was made public and it stipulated that exchanges should not be made in other currencies. Obviously, we want to make sure that we operate within the confines of the law so we have decided to only trade in the baht in Thailand," he said.
Although the company did not consult government officials before commencing its digital currency trade, it has taken an individual approach by reviewing Thai laws and the central bank's public statements in order to comply with existing rules and regulations, said Mr Hose.
He, however, supports the idea of regulating digital currency trade to increase the industry's credibility and enhance consumer safety.