Mall Group, Bitkub form digital community
Each firm has 50% stake in joint venture
The Mall Group Co, operator of The Mall, The Emporium, Paragon and EmQuartier, has teamed up with Bitkub Capital Group Holdings and other business partners to create a joint venture aiming to elevate Thailand to Asia's leading hub for digital asset investment and tourism.
The Mall Group is set to allow customers to use seven cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitkub's KUB Coin in exchange for products, services and vouchers at its department stores with no transaction fees from Wednesday until Feb 29, 2022.
According to Supaluck Umpujh, chairwoman of The Mall Group, her company and Bitkub Capital Group Holdings recently set up the joint venture called Bitkub M Co with registered capital of 50 million baht to build a digital asset ecosystem for a sustainable digital economy.
The Mall and Bitkub hold equal stake of 50:50 in the new joint venture.
The Mall Group is a retail industry leader with world-class destinations for tourists from around the world.
Bitkub Capital Group Holdings is the most prominent group of companies involved in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital assets, holding the largest share of Thailand's cryptocurrency market.
They are launching Bitkub M Social as Thailand's first digital community to provide a hub for knowledge exchange, meetings and conferences on the digital economy and digital transformation.
The community will provide support and resources to startups and entrepreneurs. It will connect interested investors, both Thai and foreign, with a digital asset trading and exchange hub, non-fungible tokens and an introduction to the Metaverse in the near future.
Ms Supaluck said the partnership scheme starts with the cooperation between The Mall Group and Bitkub before expanding to cover other companies and organisations who are ready.
Others can gradually join the project and develop the community in the future to develop Thailand's tourism ecosystem towards the goal of becoming the hub of Asia, she said.
The joint venture has talked with several industry leaders including the Tourism Authority of Thailand, AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Dusit Hotels & Resorts, Kasemrad Hospital, Ananda Development and Millennium Auto Group.
Jirayut Srupsrisopa, founder and group chief executive of Bitkub, said tourism's contribution to GDP has plunged from 20% prior to the pandemic to about 2% this year.
With the tourism sector unlikely to revive to the same level within only two years, Thailand's tourism has to reposition itself with digital assets as an important tool, he said.
The market value of global financial assets is estimated to be worth US$500 trillion per year. Bonds account for $100 trillion, global stocks $70 trillion and digital assets $3 trillion.
"The opportunity is very huge if investors diversify only 1% of their investment to digital assets," Mr Jirayut said.