The Association of Securities Companies (Asco) is studying the possibility of establishing a joint cryptocurrency exchange between securities companies and plans to apply for an operating licence with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Many securities firms that are Asco members are interested in operating digital asset and related businesses, including initial coin offering (ICO) portals and exchanges, as well as becoming brokers and dealers in digital asset trade, Pattera Dilokrungthirapop, chairwoman of Asco, told the Bangkok Post.
Interest in digital assets has been growing across the globe. Bitcoin's skyrocketing value last year heavily contributed to increasing investment appetite in digital assets.
Securities firms normally engage in the securities trading business, which is similar to digital asset trading, hence securities firms are ready to offer services and trading platforms to investors, Mrs Pattera said.
Under a securities business licence, securities firms can conduct some digital businesses, including becoming digital asset dealers and brokers, along with operating digital token e-wallets.
But such securities companies need to have the investors' property preservation system separated from the company's assets.
Regarding a plan to apply for a crypto exchange licence, at least a few securities firms will join together to obtain them to reduce operating costs and collaborate on sharing innovative technology, Mrs Pattera said.
"We are confident that investors will prefer trading with us, since we have been in the securities trading business for a long time," she said. "Investors can trust our trading system, which has secured asset preservation."
She said Asco will also further consult with the SEC on potentially allowing securities firms to conduct more operations related to the digital asset business.
The SEC has already proposed relevant rules, conditions and fund-raising procedures for the organic laws of the digital asset decree, which has been approved by the securities watchdog's board of directors and awaits publication in the Royal Gazette.
After several rounds of public hearings, a royal decree regulating digital assets took effect on May 14. The 100-section law defines cryptocurrencies as digital assets and digital tokens.
All market participants, including ICO issuers, digital exchanges, brokers and dealers involved with digital asset transactions, are required to register with the SEC within 90 days of the effective date. They must also receive the Finance Ministry's approval to conduct digital asset business.
Digital asset transactions will be subject to a 15% withholding tax on capital gains if there is a profit.
SEC deputy secretary-general Tipsuda Thavaramara said the organic laws for the digital asset decree will be announced soon, as they are currently being finalised.
At present, there are many companies expressing interest in applying for digital asset licences, including ICO issuers, ICO portals (around seven companies) and crypto exchanges (around 10 companies).
"But the SEC has informed foreign firms interested in operating as ICO portals or crypto exchanges that they need to set up domestic firms or find local partners to obtain licences," Mrs Tipsuda said.