Thailand's Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the country's first ICO portal. According to a report from the Bangkok Post, Archari Suppiroj, the director of the Thai SEC's FinTech department, stated the portal is now being finalized for official approval from other government bodies, including the Commerce Ministry.
The ICO portal's intended purpose is to protect investors from scam investments. Along with screening ICOs, it will work to verify the projects' EDCC (i.e., smart contract) source codes and implement know-your-customer processes to help counteract financial crimes. Potential investors will be able to visit the portal to check the legitimacy of an ICO.
According to Suppiroj, for right now, the portal will mainly work to govern the financial world of initial coin offerings and will not support those looking to issue security token offerings (STOs). STOs, and the tokenization of securities in general, are regulated separately under the country's Securities and Exchange Act. However, Suppiroj does note the country's SEC is creating application criteria for firms to get a license to tokenize securities and other assets.
The ICO portal announcement and Suppiroj's comments on tokenization licensing come just a couple months after the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand approved an amendment to the country's Securities and Exchange Act that allows for stocks and bonds to be tokenized. Prior to the amendment, the act only allowed the Thailand Securities Depository Co Ltd. – a subsidiary of the country's stock exchange – to trade and hold securities that don't have a physical certificate.
Cryptocurrency-related companies have also recently received their fair share of regulatory good news from Thailand's financial authorities. In August 2018, the Thai SEC announced it would allow seven crypto exchanges to continue doing business in the country while the authority reviewed their licensing applications and then submitted them to the country's finance ministry. By January of this year, four of the crypto exchanges were granted digital asset business licenses, one was still under review, and two were denied based on security concerns and weak know-your-customer protections.
As for the ICO portal, Suppiroj stated seven to eight companies have been in contact with the Thai SEC to discuss running the ICO portal, though only one, an unnamed foreign company, was chosen as the portal operator. Investors interested in any offered ICOs will also have slightly limited financial investment options. In July 2018, the Thai SEC announced ICO issuers could only accept the Thai baht, bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Ether, Ether Classic, Litecoin, Ripple, and Stellar as a means of investment. By February of this year, the list of cryptocurrencies was shortened to bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, and Stellar.