Apisak says digital coins will remain legal
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Apisak says digital coins will remain legal

The government will not ban cryptocurrency trading, says Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong, but a regulatory framework to govern digital currencies will become clearer within a month.

After a recent discussion, related agencies agreed that regulators cannot stop the use of virtual currencies but will have to regulate and control them in an appropriate manner, Mr Apisak said at yesterday's "Thailand Takeoff 2018" seminar hosted by Post Today.

Another issue that needs discussion is which regulators will oversee digital coins, he said.

Take initial coin offerings (ICOs) as an example. Transactions with such coins resemble bartering more than currency use, so it follows that they should be regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The recent wild swings in bitcoin's trading value prompted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to instruct the Finance Ministry to educate people about the risks of investing in virtual currencies, while the central bank, SEC, Finance Ministry and Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) agreed to set up a working panel tasked with considering potential measures to regulate digital currencies.

Many countries have cracked down already. India's government said recently that cryptocurrencies are not legal tender and that India would take all measures to eliminate payments using them.

Bitcoin has slumped in recent sessions as a risk-off mood spread across financial markets. The popular cryptocurrency has fallen about 70% from its peak of almost $20,000 in December and is down more than 40% this year, according to Reuters. Bitcoin gained more than 1,300% last year.

A source at the Finance Ministry said the working panel will soon lay down a regulatory framework for digital coins.

Amlo has expressed concerns that ICOs might be used for grey-market business or money laundering, the source said.

Regulating cryptocurrencies poses difficulties because no consensus exists on best regulatory practices, the source said, adding that the Bank of Thailand has a duty to seek a regulatory framework.

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