A Thai bitcoin exchange has suspended trading alleging that the Bank of Thailand has declared the cryptocurrency illegal, throwing the community into heated debate.
"At the conclusion of the meeting senior members of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department advised that due to lack of existing applicable laws, capital controls and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets the following Bitcoin activities are illegal in Thailand," says the post. It outlined the purchase or sale of bitcoins themselves as illegal, alongside the buying and selling of goods or services in exchange for bitcoins. Sending or receiving bitcoins to or from anyone outside Thailand would also be illegal.
"Based on such a broad and encompassing advisement, Bitcoin Co. Ltd. therefore has no choice but to suspend operations until such as time that the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existance of Bitcoin," the exchange said.
Debate heated up on the online forums, with some agreeing with the statement, and some arguing that senior officials at a bank agreeing on something doesn't make it law.
"Bitcoin was not ruled illegal in Thailand. There is poor reporting and interpretation going on. The Bank of Thailand has no legal power," said one commenter.
"When a senior official at a central bank tells you point-blank, 'buying or selling bitcoins is illegal', unless you have a seriously large legal fund and willing to fight all the way to the constitutional courts if necessary, you take it seriously," said another. "They made no comment about these laws (or lack of laws) being enforced; so I would assume the blackmarket will still operate business-as-usual"
The Bank of Thailand's New York office refused to comment on the issue when contacted today.
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.