Thailand requiring in-person KYC for new cryto exchange accounts
Thankfully for most people this will not apply since the folks I know that are involved in crypto would not be very keen on getting involved with a Thai-operated exchange anyway. This comes from the general distrust in anything the government regulates that a lot of the people here including and especially the foreign population feel.
Since I have lived here Thailand has changed its standpoint towards crypto a lot of times. At one point they contemplated making it illegal altogether and then they made it legal to invest but not to accept as payment, then later they briefly made it illegal for anyone to accept it as payment, then walked that back a few months later. The rise of popularity in crypto is a global phenomenon, so the people were doing it anyway and many coin startups have actually been launched at least in part, in this country.
Recently, the Anti Money-Laundering Office determined that all new accounts on Thailand exchanges would perform KYC (know your customer) in person and makes signing up online illegal. Of course they have no way of enforcing this if the person in question is willing to look abroad for other exchanges. I briefly participated in a Thai exchange a few years back but it was so slow and also a bit dodgy so the first opportunity to transfer my holdings out of that exchange arose, I took advantage of it.
The popularity of crypto has exploded in Thailand in the past few years. It is estimated (by whom I have no idea) that the number of accounts has grown from under 200,000 last year, to nearly a million this year. This of course is sketchy data and is only accounting for exchanges based in Thailand.
The idea behind this is that the government wants to prevent money laundering, which I suppose is fair enough but I always felt like the money-laundering aspect of crypto has been and always will be completely over-hyped and this is done so intentionally by the media to cause fear of getting involved.
In my mind the government of Thailand, just like other countries around the world, want to get their "piece of the action" should you ever emerge as someone who actually made money on crypto and they want to be able to tax it accordingly. This idea that this is being designed to protect investors is just silly if you ask me.
I was actually surprised to find out that this country even has an office of this sort, and even more surprised to find out how huge it is.
These new laws don't go into affect until September, so I would imagine we will see a rush of people that sign up for accounts now even if they don't have any intention of actually using them.
I don't really think that this is too much of a doom and gloom story because anyone even somewhat familiar with the crypto process realizes that it is not necessary to have a "local" exchange. However, i can see that this will probably end up being just like anything else that the government gets involved in - it will make the process overly complicated and this will frighten people out of ever getting involved. This might be the intention in the first place because we all know that governments are on the side of the traditional banking industry.
So on one hand I am happy to see that people in Thailand are showing an interest in crypto, but at the same time I really don't want the government to have anything to do with it. Myself and everyone else I know that is involved in crypto doesn't want the government, least of all the Thai government, to be involved in the process and will likely do what we were already doing anyway: Not use local exchanges.