Thailand based bitcoin exchange Bitcoin.co.th has relaunched as a full exchange after months spent offline and in testing, with a focus on security and ease of use, according to its founders.
That Thailand has open exchanges at all is significant, given the country’s ongoing reputation in some media as a bitcoin-unfriendly jurisdiction. Bitcoin.co.th went offline in July last year after the Bank of Thailand supposedly indicated that bitcoin was not legal.
The central bank then suggested in March that bitcoin was risky but not necessarily illegal in the country, opening the door to legitimate bitcoin businesses.
Bitcoin.co.th has spent most of the past month conducting extensive public alpha testing, awarding 1 BTC to successful bug-spotters. The exchange is still listed as being in beta mode, but this is mainly an initial precaution and the exchange is fully functional.
Notably, the exchange also interacts with Thailand-based banks accounts, allowing users to deposit and withdraw using the local currency, the baht.
Digital currency trades are available too, allowing exchanges between bitcoin and eight selected altcoins, including litecoin, dogecoin, peercoin, feathercoin and zetacoin.
Managing Director David Barnes said the company had existed for almost a year, yet spent a significant part of 2013 selling mining equipment to stay afloat while its exchange function remained closed due to the legal uncertainty, adding:
“I think we’ve shown that we have staying power and have built our business and brand with no VC or outside investment.”
Bitcoin.co.th provides a dual Thai and English language interface. The fact that several on its management team are foreign-born suggests the local bitcoin economy is driven in part by expat efforts, although local business people are becoming interested as they discover the advantages of the company’s bitcoin exchange services.
“Thai language customer support and web content is where our main focus of improvement will be in the coming months,” Barnes said, explaining:
“Sometimes there can be a gap between foreign management and Thai customers. We’re hoping to bridge this gap by continuing to bring in more Thai staff and management as we expand and provide our users with the best of both worlds.”
The exchange, along with its banking-related services, is restricted to Thailand customers only. The company is not trying to compete with large international exchanges, Barnes said, but aims mainly to provide a convenient service within the country.
Security and compliance
Bitcoin.co.th promises such security measures as two-factor authentication, full disk encryption on wallet servers with no incoming outside connections allowed, code developed fully in-house and no direct access by the front-end to the wallet servers.
All withdrawals are manually checked before being processed, and new users must have accounts verified before trading.
The site also publishes a full order book and detailed charts to show market depth and volumes. At the time of writing, 1 BTC was worth 15,017 THB ($462).