The new laws ban crypto as a payment method in Thailand. However, the ban doesn’t apply to crypto used for investing; on the contrary, investing with crypto allows access to relaxed tax rules, including an exemption from a 7% value-added tax.

In a statement, Thailand’s Security and Exchange Commission expressed concern that cryptocurrencies present a risk to the stability of the Thai financial system and economy. The SEC’s letter points to potential issues including price volatility, cyber theft, personal data leakage, and money laundering.

The new regulations target cryptocurrency payments on multiple levels. Businesses are required not to advertise availability for crypto payments. Meanwhile, if a digital asset business finds that a client is using crypto for payments instead of for investing, the business is required to notify officials, or even suspend the user’s account.

The announcement does not come as a complete surprise. In earlier discussions, the SEC and the Bank of Thailand examined crypto, concluding that greater regulation was necessary for the crypto sector.

However, the news does represent a stark contrast for the country, where crypto adoption was booming just months prior.

In January 2022, Thai citizens’ crypto holdings were valued at 114.5 billion baht, having exploded from 9.6 billion baht over the course of a few years. The Tourism Authority of Thailand, too, was optimistic about crypto attracting wealthy, high-value tourists after a pandemic-induced travel slump.

"Crypto is the future, so we must make Thailand a crypto-positive society to welcome this group of quality tourists," TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said in November.

The new regulations dash that hope for the foreseeable future, and leave Thai crypto holders questioning.

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