Thailand’s Oldest Bank Acquires 51% Stake in Crypto Exchange Bitkub

Updated by Kyle Baird
In Brief
  • SCB purchased the 51% stake for approximately $537 million.
  • The deal will see Bitkub act as critical infrastructure for the growth of the crypto ecosystem.
  • Thai regulators are in the middle of enforcing regulations on the market as investment interest grows.
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Thailand’s oldest and first commercial bank, the Siam Commercial Bank, has purchased a majority stake in the Thai crypto exchange Bitkub. It’s one of the few licensed exchanges in the country and will act as a launchpad for the SCB’s growing involvement in the crypto asset class.

Thailand’s first commercial bank, the Siam Commercial Bank, has acquired a 51% stake in Thailand’s Bitkub exchange, according to an announcement published on Nov 2. The exchange noted that the deal would serve the long-term growth of the platform and “lay the foundation for the financial business of the future world.” The bank purchased the stake for roughly $537 million.

The deal is expected to see closure in the first quarter of 2022, but the announcement is an indication that all the pieces are in place. This would mark the first time that a commercial bank in Thailand has a stake in a crypto exchange. The deal will be subject to approval from financial regulators.

Bitkub Online is one of the few licensed cryptocurrency exchanges in Thailand. As a major shareholder, SCB, along with Bitkub, will work on creating a digital asset ecosystem with the exchange serving as a key infrastructure pillar. SCB CEO Arthit Nanthawittaya was optimistic about how the exchange could help support entry into a new economic era,

This is in line with the SCBX parent vehicle strategy to upgrade to a financial technology group. [We] can meet the new needs of consumers and [be] able to enter a new competitive field that is coming up very quickly in the next 3-5 years.

The SCB is the oldest bank in Thailand, having formed in 1907. It has made multiple forays in the crypto space, before having invested in Ripple. BlockFi, and Alpha Finance. It also has a venture capital unit that invests in startups in the space.

Where does Thailand stand on crypto?

Thailand has an active crypto user base, but generally speaking, the government is ambivalent towards the cryptocurrency market. The Thai Prime Minister warned investors about the crypto asset class as adoption spiked in Q2 and Q3 2021.

But none of the actions so far have been what one might call draconian. The most negative development has to do with the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) outlawing NFTs and meme tokens. The financial regulator also filed a criminal complaint against Binance in July 2021, arguing that the latter operates without a license.

But with this SCB and Bitkub deal, it appears that the country is willing to let the market flourish so long as checks are in place. This is a boon for the country’s younger citizens, who have an avid interest in crypto.

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