Roland Amoussou: “Cryptocurrencies are exploding in Thailand”

Cryptocurrencies have been a hot topic globally in recent years. In Thailand, it is a real explosion, according to Roland Amoussou, doctor of law specialist in the subject

In January 2009, Bitcoin made its appearance on the world financial scene, followed over the years by other cryptocurrencies. As an insider market, cryptocurrencies are attracting more and more users, especially in emerging countries including Thailand. For the past two years, the country has experienced an ever-growing craze for cryptocurrencies.

Thailand even acts as a precursor country and resolutely turned towards these new currencies of exchange since the kingdom adopted its first regulations on cryptocurrencies in 2018.

As a prelude to seminar organized by the Union of French Abroad on June 8 at the Pullman in Bangkok and entitled “From the explosion of cryptocurrencies to the emergence of NFTs (JNFs): the promises and the risks”, interviewed Roland Amoussou Guenou, doctor of international law and specialist in digital economy law and cryptocurrency regulation working as a lawyer-partner at Vovan & Associés.

Roland Amoussou Guenou, doctor of international law and specialist in digital economy law and cryptocurrency regulation. Photo Pierre Queffelec

Born in Benin and naturalized French, Roland Amoussou Guénou settled in Asia about 20 years ago as a regional expert in charge of legal cooperation in Asean countries for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also taught economic and technology law at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and created the Asiafrica Foundation, the aim of which is to promote Asia-Africa cooperation and exchanges.

He comes back here with us on the high rate of adoption of cryptocurrencies in Thailand and around the world, on the reasons why cryptocurrencies are so attractive to emerging countries, and on the regulations put in place in Thailand.

LEPETITJOURNAL.COM: Why are cryptocurrencies more and more attractive?

DR ROLAND AMOUSSOU: For the past two years, we have witnessed an explosion of cryptocurrencies globally and in Thailand. Cryptocurrency adoption statistics have truly increased in 2021. In Thailand, the adoption rate is 5% of the population, that’s considerable! By way of comparison, this rate is only 1% in Switzerland and 2% in France and 7% in Nigeria, Kenya, Vietnam or the United States.

The public that adopts cryptocurrencies has also evolved. At the start, the very first ones were a bit like pioneers, “nerds”. Then, the general public followed as well as institutions and companies. Today, states like El Salvador or the Central African Republic accept Bitcoin as a means of payment. Last year the cryptocurrency market reached 3,000 billion dollars, there is truly an explosion.

What explains this explosion?

The 2008 banking and financial crisis exposed the flaws of the global financial system, a system that is too unequal and untrustworthy. Therefore, the “Blockchain” (The blockchain is a technology for storing and transmitting information without a central authority, editor’s note) answers the fundamental question of trust.

From the moment when the banking and financial system in which we have evolved until now can no longer be trusted, why not create an unshakable system of trust without the need for human interaction. This system of trust makes it possible to pay, to make transactions and recently, it also makes it possible to create digital assets. This is why the blockchain and cryptocurrencies are perceived as a revolution, they provide a solution to a social problem in the face of financial crises, the collapse of currencies, etc.

Then there are other reasons that depend on countries and regions, especially for countries with emerging economies.

Why is cryptocurrency adoption stronger in emerging countries?

There is a negative and historical sentiment towards the banking and financial system which seems to keep most people from access to finance, loans. When you don’t have property, land or banker assets, it’s complicated to get a loan from a bank. Cryptocurrency provides a solution to these needs, today one can obtain a bank loan by providing Bitcoins as collateral for example.

In Africa, the banking and financial system is not at the service of the population. People feel rejected, excluded from the system. Crypto provides them with a solution to do business, to invest, to innovate.

In Asia, there is more interest in speculation. Asians realize that with cryptocurrency or NFTs, they can get rich very quickly.

Latin America is very anti-American, so anything against the dollar, they’ll take it like El Salvador which has adopted bitcoin as legal tender.

The adoption of cryptocurrencies is very geopolitical and therefore very sensitive.

Where is Thailand in adopting cryptocurrencies?

Thailand has truly entered into cryptocurrencies, it’s amazing. Often we perceive Thailand as a country geared towards tourism, a resort and all of a sudden we are talking about a technological revolution and Thailand is taking part in it.

For me, there are two explanations. In 2016, the Thai government launched its “Thailand 4.0” program, i.e. a plan where Thailand plans to change its economy over the next few years from an intermediate economy to a developed economy. by adopting technology. At the time, we were not yet talking about Blockchain, but there was this vision with universities that began to train students, the creation of a Ministry of Digital Economy and Society. Do not underestimate Thailand and its government, they are progressing well.

Moreover, Thailand adopted a decree on cryptocurrencies in 2018!

Then there is the emergence of young people who study more and more abroad and who come back with ideas, projects, these young people have the capacity to transform society in a discreet and effective way.

So Thailand is a country that loves and wants to adopt cryptocurrencies, a country that has put in place a legal framework. Certainly it is not perfect, but today market players consider Thailand as the place to be to develop cryptocurrency services.

What are the cryptocurrency regulations in Thailand?

The interest of the 2018 decree is to create definitions because a definition can have legal consequences. The text defines what cryptocurrencies are: digital currencies created on the blockchain to pay for goods and services.

There is also the definition of the actors, that is to say who can do business. To have a cryptocurrency exchange platform, you must have a license in Thailand, which creates guarantees for investors. For example, if I have a problem with Bitkub, I can sue them, the license obliges them to have liability if something goes wrong.

The text talks about cryptocurrency consultants, and again, you need a license to be able to give cryptocurrency advice.

Then the text goes into other details, it talks about the training of actors, investors, etc.

Afterwards, cryptocurrencies generate other security problems such as scams, hacking, data protection. There are a number of legal issues that are not yet resolved by the existing laws, but Thailand’s advantage is already to have a base.

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Roland Amoussou: “Cryptocurrencies are exploding in Thailand”

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