Thailand’s oldest bank Siam Commerical Bank (SCB) is backing blockchain technology for the long-term despite crypto winter.
SCB 10X, the venture capital arm of SCB, holds a variety of crypto and blockchain companies. Its portfolio once contained the now defunct BlockFi.
“BlockFi was less than 1% of SCB 10X’s portfolio exposure,” said Mukaya Panich, CEO of SCB 10X. SCB 10X wrote their BlockFi investment off in August. She added that remaining portfolio companies “all have runway of more than four years. They have raised enough money during the good times, so they have a long runway to survive the crypto winter. And there are a lot of good opportunities right now in the market for acquisition.”
“We’re a serious investor, we are not tourists. We are here for the long term because we really believe blockchain technology is game-changing and a paradigm shift,” she said.
SCB 10X is advising its 40 portfolio companies to improve their products and monetization in anticipation of a market rebound.
“We continue to invest and actively source deals and founders to come to our incubation program,” Mukaya said.
The collapse of countless crypto companies and financial weakness suffered by tech firms have not discouraged SCB 10X.
“We came from a bull market, and people were just focused on building, but they didn’t think deeply enough about how they’re going to generate revenue,” Mukaya explained.
Whilst Thailand’s domestic market is smaller than Indonesia’s and growing slower than Vietnam, SCB 10X is now looking to find the next Thai unicorn, with an emphasis on blockchain. “When we created SCB 10X three years ago, we focused on building in the area that could be global from day one, and that is blockchain,” said Mukaya.
Thailand currently only has four unicorns including Bitkub. Our objective in building is to create a startup that could become a unicorn,” said Mukaya.
SCB 10X aims for SCB itself to be a customer for the projects built by the venture capital arm. “If we could actually create a synergy with the bank, it can be quite powerful,” Mukaya continued.
Despite its 110 year age, SCB demonstrates that even the most traditional banks are keen to back blockchain technology. DeFi in particular is an area of web3 that SCB is excited about.
“We think that in the future, the bank should be able to use DeFi as the back-end operation to make these very efficient and reduce the number of people and paperwork,” said Mukaya.
Like most SECs, Thailand’s Security Exchange Commission is extremely cautious about crypto. In September, the SEC announced a ban on crypto companies from offering staking and lending services.
The regulatory body has also been on the heels of Zipmex, recently issuing an investor warning after it deemed its actions to be “discriminatory.”
Nonetheless, Thailand’s appetite for web3 and blockchain is encouraging, and regulation to protect customers is certainly warranted considering the drama that unfolded in 2022. If Thailand’s oldest bank gets onboard with web3, it could serve as a beacon for other domestic banks to follow suit.