Thai regulators cite Binance and Bybit cases in Asia’s latest crypto crackdown

Thai regulators cite Binance and Bybit cases in Asia’s latest crypto crackdown
Regulation
Pornanong Busaratrakul, Thailand's markets regulator, vowed to block unlicenced crypto exchanges. Credit: Andrés Tapia
Asia Dispatch
  • Binance is now running a regulated exchange in Thailand in a joint venture.
  • A wide-ranging effort to licence crypto platforms is sweeping the continent.
  • Thailand follows the lead of India and the Philippines.

Even as Asian markets such as Hong Kong lean into permitting Bitcoin and Ether ETFs, regulators in Thailand are taking a hard line on unauthorised digital asset service providers.

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission is intensifying its crackdown on rogue platforms by blocking access them, according to comments made by SEC Secretary-general Pornanong Busaratrakul.

The action is aimed at curbing money laundering activities.

Binance’s new regulated exchange

The SEC’s statement cited previous disputes with Binance and Bybit as cases where they had taken legal action against unlicenced platforms.

In 2021, Binance faced accusations from the SEC for operating without a licence.

But in January, the world’s top crypto exchange started operating a regulated crypto exchange in Thailand through a joint venture with Gulf Energy Development, which is led by Thai billionaire Sarath Ratanavadi.

Meanwhile, the SEC flagged Bybit in December 2023 for operating without official permission. Despite the regulatory heat, Bybit continues to engage Thai consumers.

In February, it ran competitions with prizes, including 15,000 USDT for top traders and luxury items such as iPhones and iPads for significant trades, for Thai users.

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Impending restrictions

The SEC has urged users of unlicenced platforms to withdraw their assets promptly, drawing parallels to measures recently implemented in India and the Philippines.

It remains unclear which specific platforms will face the SEC’s impending restrictions.

The action in Thailand underscores the balancing act finance regulators are taking across the continent.

In Hong Kong, for instance, the Securities and Futures Commission has signalled it would approve crypto ETFs at the same time it is labouring to curb investment fraud by requiring digital asset providers to get licenced.

Quick Bites

  • Hong Kong police officials said they froze US$29 million connected to JPEX. More than 2,600 people lost an estimated US$206 million following the exchange’s collapse in September. A total of 72 people have been arrested but no charges have been filed.
  • The Chinese embassy in Angola has warned its citizens in the country to stop mining crypto following a ban by the local government on April 10. It said that over the past year, several Chinese citizens have been held responsible for mining and suspected illegal use of electricity.
  • The Philippines has asked Google and Apple to remove Binance apps from their respective local app stores. It follows the blocking of the Binance website in the country last month.
  • Binance may be returning to the Indian market after a ban earlier this year.

Callan Quinn is DL News’ Hong Kong-based Asia Correspondent. Get in touch at callan@dlnews.com.

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