Thailand green-lights Bitcoin ETFs as global regulators ease resistance to listed crypto funds

Thailand green-lights Bitcoin ETFs as global regulators ease resistance to listed crypto funds
Thialand financial regulator Pornanong Budsaratragoon has cleared the way for professional investors to access Bitcoin ETFs. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Thai officials said professional investors may access US Bitcoin ETFs.
  • The reversal of a prior ban comes as Bitcoin hits all-time high of $72,000.
  • The decision comes as regulators are warming to listed crypto funds.

Thai regulators will allow money managers to launch private funds for US spot Bitcoin ETFs — but only for institutional investors and the super-rich, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission said Monday.

In January, officials said investment firms were not authorised to make direct investments in Bitcoin ETFs on behalf of their clients.

But SEC Secretary General Pornanong Budsaratragoon said regulators reversed their position last week after getting input from investment houses.

“Asset management firms asked the SEC for them to have exposure in digital assets, especially Bitcoin and spot Bitcoin ETFs,” Pornanong said, according to reporting by The Bangkok Post.

“But we need to consider carefully whether to allow asset management firms to invest in digital assets directly due to the high risk.”

Bitcoin hit an all-time high this week of $72,000 and since its launch on January 11, BlackRock’s spot Bitcoin ETF has amassed more than $10 billion in assets.

The move in Thailand is the latest sign that market regulators worldwide are relaxing their restrictions on listed crypto products.

On Monday, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority said it will allow exchange-traded notes for Bitcoin and Ethereum.

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The offerings, which are debt securities that track the performance of the cryptocurrencies, will be listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Unprecedented move

Asian leaders are in a state of flux when it comes to crypto ETFs.

Even though investors and asset managers are keen on the products, regulators have resisted them.

Following their historic approval in the US, officisls in several countries — including Thailand — warned companies and investors against them. Jason Titman, the COO of Australian crypto exchange Swyftx, called the move “unprecedented”.

Singapore quickly ruled out the possibility of an ETF for the local market. An official said that those who choose to trade in overseas markets “must exercise extreme caution.”

South Korea has flip-flopped on the issue. On January 12 its Financial Service Commission warned brokerages that offering the US ETF could be illegal and “violate the existing government stance on virtual assets and the Capital Markets Act.”

South Korean leaders warm to ETFs

In the run up to the election next month however, the two largest parties have both suggested they are open to allowing one.

The ruling party, the People Power Party then backtracked and said it had “indefinitely postponed” plans to announce a pledge to ease crypto restrictions, including the ETFs.

In Hong Kong, regulators are currently reviewing applications submitted by local firms wishing to launch them — some are even hopeful Hong Kong may approve a spot Ether ETF before the US.

Got a crypto story in Asia? Get in touch at callan@dlnews.com.