Thailand becomes the first country in Southeast Asia to grant Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, a licence to operate.
Gulf Binance, a joint venture between Binance and Gulf Energy Development, has received the licence from the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand. The company says it aims to launch operations of the new platform by the fourth quarter of 2023.
“By harnessing Binance's expertise together with Gulf’s established local presence and network, Gulf Binance aims to showcase the full potential of blockchain technology to meet the needs of Thai users,” says Richard Teng, Binance’s head of Asia, Europe, and MENA. “Local users can expect access to a trusted and regulated service that prioritizes user security alongside compliance with local regulations.”
Gulf Energy Development is Thailand’s leading private power producer. The joint venture, which was inked in 2022, is split 51-49, with Gulf Innova, the fintech arm of Gulf Energy Development, owning the majority stake.
Teng says Binance is grateful to receive its first licence in Thailand, which he notes has a “thriving crypto space that has demonstrated strong commitment in embracing blockchain technology”. It is the seventh such licence the Thai regulator has granted.
In addition to launching the crypto exchange in the country this year, Gulf Binance says its overarching goal is to be the leading provider of infrastructure services for the digital asset ecosystem in Thailand. “A key part of this vision is to nurture local Web3 talent and help spur the growth of the broader blockchain landscape,” the company says.
Binance’s move to seek regulatory approval in Thailand is a departure from its previous approach, which has led to the company facing opposition in several Asean countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, which have either banned it outright, issued it warnings or are conducting investigations into its operations.
In late 2021, Binance withdrew operations in Singapore after it decided to withdraw its application for a licence to operate in the city state. In August 2022 the Philippines' central bank warned the public not to invest with Binance, citing its lack of an appropriate licence.
While Thailand has been steadily granting cryptocurrency exchange and brokerage licences, it has also taken a cautionary approach to the use of digital assets as payments, banning the use of crypto tokens for payments of goods and services in March 2022.