New digital currency traders in Thailand will be required to physically present themselves when they open new accounts on exchanges. This is after the country’s regulators revealed a new stringent KYC process that is seeking to stamp out money laundering, scams and other illegal activities from the industry. The new regulations kick in starting September.
Currently, Thai exchanges conduct the onboarding process entirely online—from the application, to the ID submission, verification and account opening. However, according to a report by the Bangkok Post this all changes in three months’ time. The Thai Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has mandated all exchanges to use the dip-chip machine for identity verification. This machine scans a chip embedded on the Thai national identity card, requiring the customer to be physically present.
According to the paper, digital currency trading in the Southeast Asian nation has skyrocketed this year. As of April 26, there were close to 700,000 digital currency accounts in Thailand, up four-fold from 160,000 at the end of 2020. This growth in user numbers and trading volumes has concerned the regulators.
The local exchanges haven’t been the most welcoming of the new KYC measures. Some said that complicating the process could push away new clients and stifle growth. There’s also concern that the new measures would lock out non-Thai traders from accessing the local exchanges.
Poramin Insom, co-founder of local exchange Satang Corporation, told the paper:
“Most digital asset exchanges are still busy preparing their systems to accommodate the growing number of clients as new account applications continue to flow in. However, this growth may be curbed if the application process becomes more complicated.”
Thai exchanges and wallet providers will gather at an upcoming forum to discuss the issue and collectively come up with recommendations on the best way forward, he revealed. The forum is organized by the Thailand Digital Asset Operators Trade Association, a self-regulating local organization.
Aside from digital currency exchanges, Thai residents who purchase gold worth 100,000 baht ($3,120) must show ID cards. However, unlike the exchanges, gold shops in Thailand have been requiring their users to show their ID physically for five years now.
The new KYC rules are just the latest government policy targeting the digital currency industry. As CoinGeek reported two months ago, the Thai government proposed that digital currency traders should prove their income before being allowed to trade. This move is reportedly meant to cushion amateur traders against huge losses by ensuring they trade within their means.