Like the Bahamas, Thailand is a destination that mixes exotic locations with equally attractive tax benefits, exempting its 7% value-added tax for crypto traders on authorized exchanges, and offering tax exemptions of up to 10 years for crypto start up investors. This recently approved measure on crypto trading until the end of 2023 to give the crypto economy a boost,
Crypto trading has been growing over the past year in the second-largest Southeast Asian economy, with the number of new crypto investors reportedly outpacing new stock market traders in September. Digital assets have grown fast in Thailand over the past year, with trading accounts surging to about 2 million at the end of 2021, and the plans, whilst not a strategy in themselves, are part of the government’s attempts to consolidate crypto regulation and develop the industry.
On the question of central bank digital currency CBDC, Thailand is undertaking ongoing assessment in the development of such to meet the needs of the general public whilst offering other possible efficiency gains. The assessment is nearing completion and is already in outline usage with a limited number of businesses.
The latest tax laws state that trades of digital assets on government-approved exchanges will be exempt from a 7% value-added-tax VAT, and transfers via Thailand’s central bank digital currency CBDC, will be exempt from the VAT. Traders will also be able to offset losses from crypto trading against taxes due on gains. All in all, the move is to support the crypto industry and improve its competitiveness and effectiveness within the digital economy. This is yet another positive move to boost the crypto economy and follows the scrapping of a proposed 15% withholding tax on crypto gains that had been planned earlier in the year. Income earned from crypto activities now only incurs a 15% capital gains tax CGT which was introduced at the beginning of January, instead of an additional 15% tax, mentioned above, that applied to profits on each transaction withheld from traders’ salaries.
On a general level, all income produced through crypto activity is subject to the country’s general taxation principles as per the Royal Decree and Amendment of the Revenue Code.
Individuals must include any crypto gains on their tax returns, with withholding tax applying to their individual tax liability.
Thailand has a growing amount of enterprises willing to invest in Bitcoin mining especially as the country has seen a crypto-boom over the last two year – at least until the most recent price falls at the time of writing this. One of the key uplifts in mining in Thailand came as a result of China’s decision last year to crack down on the whole crypto industry, from trading and buying goods with crypto, to mining it. As a result, Thailand benefited from the huge availability of cut-price mining computers, crypto mining tools and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners to small local investors. Every cloud has a silver lining as they say!
Initial Coin Offerings – ICOs
Initial Coin Offerings IPOs are gaining mainstream acceptance around the world, but in Thailand, newly issued digital tokens must be approved by the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission SEC, accompanied by a draft prospectus, registered with all of the required materials, and issued through a portal approved by the SEC. STablecoins have recently suffered a setback following the latest crypto price drops, however, the Bank of Thailand regulates stablecoins and is conducting ongoing feedback on their usage and viability, stablecoins without asset backing are still unregulated.
Thailand’s reinvigorated crypto economy was given a further boost, by the news late in 2021, that the long-established Siam Commercial Bank SCB, a pillar of Thai society, initiated a further drive into fintech/blockchain by acquiring a controlling share position in a local, home-based crypto currency exchange, Bitkub Online. Bitcoin and crypto generally, as with many south east Asian countries, is seen as a means of creating a fast-growing financial hub that is very desirable for respective governments. Institutional investors are highly tuned into the possibilities of both crypto and blockchain with the likes of Brooker Group, financial and real estate specialist, active in mining and Stablecoin prior, at least, until the latest price falls. Others include Jasmine Technology Solutions, a telecommunications technology company, and computer wholesaler and software developer Comanche International with interests in mining and also a crypto trading platform.
A healthy appetite for spending Bitcoin in Thailand has developed, with a number of large, household brands now accepting crypto as part of their offering. These include leading department store operator The Mall Group and property specialists, Sansiri and Ananda each also accepting Bitcoin as part of the payment for prospective property sales. This lead by the private sector, as we have seen elsewhere in the Coincub rankings, isn’t always fully supported by governments –or financial institutions. In this case the Bank of Thailand last year was not wholly in favor of using digital assets as a mode of payment for goods and services, until clearer and more cohesive regulations were discussed and adopted – a familiar pattern in many countries. However, previous warnings about volatility have been ignored and the crypto boom has yet to show signs of slowing with shops and other places
Happily accepting crypto as payment
Transparency and security
Countries with firm regulatory guidelines inevitably fare better as crypto economies that don’t and Thailand to date has lacked regulatory consistency. Like many countries, crypto is not considered to be legal tender but digital assets. These may be traded, and exchanged through virtual asset service providers VASPs that are governed and licensed by the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission SEC, under the legislation of the the Royal Enactment on Digital Asset Businesses REDA. The boom in crypot has currently been hit by the latest restriction on using crypto to buy products and services. The SEC has approved certain popular crypto currencies and only licensed VASPs deal in them.
In late 2021, the Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office AMLO began instructing local crypto exchanges and service providers to verify customer identities by means of physically checking their presence when opening cryptocurrency wallets and issuing transaction details. Information requirements on date of birth, and place of residence, occupation, location of the workplace, and the name and signature of the person who carried out the transaction, must all be recorded and preserved as a record for 10 years minimum. Agencies including the Thailand Digital Asset Operators Trade Association, the SEC, and AMLO are all parties to ensure compliance with these regulations.