Thailand moves towards regulating ICOs

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Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the kingdom's first initial coin offering portal (ICO) and is expected to issue guidelines for securities token offerings (STO) applications in the near future. ICO portals are used primarily to conduct due diligence.

Thai regulators say that a foreign firm is the operator of the ICO portal, but have not identified the company by name. That company was chosen from an applicant pool of 7-8 firms that spoke with the SEC about operating ICO portals.

Analysts say that Thailand is one of Asia's more progressive countries with regards to its blockchain and cryptocurrency policies. Proponents of distributed ledgers say that permitting the trade of assets on the blockchain will give rise to new securities exchanges, boosting the growth of capital markets. There is the potential to trade almost any kind of asset on the blockchain, from stocks and bonds to property and precious metals.  

"Unlocking regulations to facilitate the growth of digital assets will open the doors for institutional investors, jump-starting future growth potential and scaling up investment impact," Jirayut Srupsrisopa, co-founder and chief executive at Bitkub Capital Group Holdings, told The Bangkok Post.

"Thailand has a supportive environment where lawyers and regulators understand the new global movement [on virtual asset classes]," he added.

Thailand's approval of ICO portals follows a decision in February to legalize securities tokens. Under the amendment, firms operating depositories of securities and digital tokens can apply for a depositories license. Tokens that grant holders rights similar to stocks, bonds or mutual funds will be considered securities. Repaying a token's interest and principal will become a debt instrument. Scriptless issuances will now form the foundation of subscriptions sales for IPOs, ICOs and STOs.

Tokenizing securities could revolutionize the financial sector, allowing investors to manage their own assets instead of allocating that responsibility to a custodian. Without restrictions imposed by third parties, asset flow would almost certainly accelerate. The tokens could ultimately have many applications, among them paying dividends, processing convertible debt and doing credit default swaps.