File photo :Sakkarin Ruamrangsri
File photo :Sakkarin Ruamrangsri

SEC closes in on digital currency rules

Economy March 01, 2018 01:00

By  The Nation

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THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plans to introduce a regulatory framework governing investment in digital currencies, including the fast-moving trend for initial coin offerings (ICO).

Sakkarin Ruamrangsri, assistant secretary-general of the SEC, said a meeting with related agencies would be held on March 8 and that the SEC would propose regulations dealing with corporate fundraising via ICOs and other forms of investment in cryptocurrencies.

 “The direction for the regulations could involve introduction of a law and that may some time given the need for careful consideration, he said.

A draft amendment of the securities and exchange bill has revised the definition of a securities business without direct reference to ICOs and digital currency investments, Sakkarin said. More broadly, the amendment refers to providing flexibility in innovations and new services to promote development of financial technology (fintech).

“The amended law will deal with business operators who bring financial innovations, such as the launch of an application for stock trading or innovative investment consultancy services,” Sakkarin said. “However, another law is required to cope with these cases (fundraising through ICOs and digital-currency investments).”

Another significant issue for a proposed legal amendment is the need for an additional problem-solving mechanism that allows the SEC to call a meeting of shareholders in a listed company in an irregular case. Such a provision would help the company be able to run its operations and prevent its problems from spreading, Sakkarin said.

Other issues include upgraded regulatory requirements over mutual funds, improved regulation for the stock exchange in line with international standards, corporate governance and increased competitiveness, and the establishment of Capital Market Development Fund (CMDF) as a development mechanism for capital markets, improved competitiveness and broader economic development.

Aside from these areas, the SEC and Capital Market Supervisory Board would seek to boost the efficiency and transparency of operations in capital markets. Penalties would be revised to encourage compliance.

Sakkarin said the draft amendment would help the capital-market regulatory structure to comply with the international standard and focus on protection of investors and increase securities business flexibility for innovations and new services, which could encourage more newcomers.

The draft amendment would be forwarded to the Council of the State for consideration and, then, National Legislative Assembly. 

Pornchai Thiraveja, financial policy adviser of the Fiscal Policy Office, said the legal framework for the regulation of digital currencies would imitate a model of securities offerings as a means to help prevent investment loss on expectation of a clearer planned framework in early March.

“Now, the working group consisting of the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Thailand, the SEC and Anti-Money Laundering Office is considering whether to introduce a new law to regulate [ICOs and digital-currency investments] or use the existing law,” he said.

In principle, trading in digital currencies must be based on the Know Your Customer (KYC) concept, with awareness raised in a bid to prevent investment losses, he said. Providers of such services are required to be licensed.

Pornchai said that, for now, the central bank does not regard digital currencies as functioning in a similar way to legal-tender currencies, although he noted that in some countries cryptocurrencies are seen as valid for transactions involving some goods and services.