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Thailand's crypto market is making headlines once again as major players vie for dominance in this rapidly growing industry. News on Tuesday that Karibornbank (K-Bank), the country's second-biggest bank, has acquired a 97% stake in Thai crypto exchange Satang for 3.705 billion Thai baht ($102.8 million) through its new subsidiary Unita Capital, is a clear indicator of the financial sector's increasing interest in digital assets in the country.
This acquisition positions K-Bank to offer a wider range of crypto-related services and leverage Satang's expertise. The exchange will be rebranded as Orbix and will include three new subsidiaries aimed at expanding its digital assets services, the company said in an announcement.
K-Bank's strategic move aims to tap into the burgeoning local crypto market, where Satang has established itself as a prominent player. As crypto gains mainstream acceptance, traditional financial institutions like K-Bank are adapting to meet evolving customer demands for digital assets. K-Bank said it wants 20% of the country’s crypto market share by 2024.
Thailand is ranked 10th on the 2023 Global Crypto Adoption Index by Chainalysis, joining its Southeast Asian neighbors Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia as among the top crypto-owning nations globally. Financial regulator SEC Thailand has been clamping down on the digital asset industry amid the sector's growth – it issued new regulations for custody providers in May 2023, and previously banned crypto firms from offering staking and lending services and established stricter crypto advertising rules.
K-Bank recently launched a $100 million investment fund focused on backing international startups in the fields of consumer-focused AI, fintech, cybersecurity, NFTs, and blockchain infrastructure and scaling solutions. The Kasikorn X Venture Capital fund is on par with K-Bank’s quest to become a regional hub for innovative tech startups from the U.S., EU, Israel, and APAC.
However, K-Bank is not the only major player making bold moves in Thailand's crypto scene. SCB10x, the digital arm of Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank, recently forged a partnership with Hashed, a Korean Web3 firm, signifying the bank's commitment to exploring the potential of blockchain and decentralized finance. Meanwhile, Binance joined forces with Gulf earlier this year to launch a digital asset platform in Thailand. This partnership has secured digital asset operator licenses, paving the way for Binance to expand its services in the Thai market, with operations to be launch in Thailand by Q4 2023.
With traditional banks and global crypto giants making significant investments in Thailand's crypto market, the country is poised to become a key player in the global crypto landscape. This growing interest reflects not only the maturation of Thailand's crypto industry but also the broader trend of digital assets gaining mainstream acceptance. Investors and enthusiasts should keep a close eye on developments in Thailand as they indicate the evolving dynamics of the crypto market in Southeast Asia and its potential impact on the global stage.
- AsiaNext Expands: AsiaNext, a Singapore-based digital exchange for institutional investors, is looking to grow its ranks to meet the growing institutional demand. Vacancies include roles in sales, operations, audit, risk, infrastructure and more. The company is joint venture between SBI Digital Asset Holdings and SIX Group, and aims to provide a world-class platform for tokenising and trading a diverse range of securities and non-bankable assets. It will offer a comprehensive suite of services, including listing, trading, clearing, settlement and custody.
- eHKD Phase 1: The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has completed the first phase of pilots for its central bank digital currency (CBDC), eHKD. Together with 16 institutions, HKMA discovered that programmable payment applications were the most valuable, with benefits in tokenization and atomic settlement. Standard Chartered and the Bank of China (Hong Kong) also conducted pilots for offline and programmable CBDCs. The programmable payment trials included loyalty programs, smart contracts for rewards and government subsidies.
- Animoca Gets Saudi Investment: Saudi Arabia's NEOM Investment Fund is set to invest $50 million in Animoca Brands. $25 million will be invested through convertible notes and another $25 million through the purchase of Animoca Brands' shares on the secondary market. Animoca will support the development of web3 infrastructure in the NEOM region, aligning with the Saudi Vision 2030 plan.