Some foreign moneychangers aim to do business in Thailand to cash in on the increased influx of foreign currency from tourism and trade ahead of the Asean Economic Community, according to the Thai Association of Foreign Exchange (TAFEX).
“Some are applying to the Bank of Thailand for licences to operate money exchange here,” said TAFEX president Chanaporn Poonsuphirun.
“Although Thailand has many political troubles, the country is well placed in Asean, and it has a more complete infrastructure than neighbouring countries, which attracts foreign moneychangers to do business here.”
TAFEX is urging local moneychangers to makes sure their own licences are current and to join the association, so they can monitor problems faced by the foreign-exchange industry and propose solutions to the central bank and state agencies.
The association was formed two years ago when moneychangers saw the need for consultant services and wished to propose to the BOT some regulations protecting their business.
Last year, TAFEX proposed to the central bank that it scrap a rule obligating moneychangers to sell 80 per cent of their banknote inventories back to commercial banks at the end of every month. Chanaporn said the BOT approved the change last December, allowing moneychangers to manage their own banknote inventory, thereby improving their profit margins.
She said the association had also asked the BOT to raise the foreign-exchange limit from US$5,000 (Bt162,600) to $10,000, which is under consideration by the central bank.
TAFEX plans to negotiate other issues with the BOT that could encourage local moneychangers to apply for licences.
One of these is dropping the requirement for customers to show their passports if they want to exchange less than Bt50,000.
Chanaporn, who is also managing director of Twelve Victory Exchange Co, said her company was preparing to expand its network of 20 outlets to provincial markets by joining with people upcountry interested in getting into the business.
At present, TAFEX has 75 members out of more than 1,300 licensed moneychangers, which include hotels and travel agencies.
Increasing the number of licensed moneychangers would improve the accuracy of data on foreign-exchange volumes. The association expects the volume this year to climb to $10 billion from $6.59 billion in 2013.