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Binance secures operating license in Thailand, its first in Southeast Asia

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(Kitco News) - Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has received regulatory approval from the Thai government to operate as a crypto exchange. The company announced on Friday that their new Gulf Binance venture has secured a Digital Asset Operator license in Thailand, giving them their first regulated business in Southeast Asia.

Gulf Binance is a joint venture between Binance and Gulf Innova, the Thai subsidiary holding company Gulf Energy. With the license, Gulf Binance will be able to move forward with plans to open a digital asset exchange and digital asset broker that are regulated by Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission.

Binance and Gulf Innova reached a joint venture agreement in 2022 and worked with Thailand’s regulators to “ensure the formation of a compliant-first exchange” that meets the country’s requirements.

“We are grateful and honored to be granted digital asset operator licenses for Gulf Binance in Thailand,” said Richard Teng, Binance’s Head of Asia, Europe, and MENA. “Local users can expect access to a trusted and regulated service that prioritizes user security alongside compliance with local regulations.”

Teng added that Gulf Binance’s Thai users will benefit from the combination of Binance's digital assets expertise and Gulf Innova’s established local presence and network, and referred to Thailand as “a country with a thriving crypto space that has demonstrated strong commitment in embracing blockchain technology.”

Today’s announcement concludes a long saga for Binance in the country, one which saw the Thai SEC file a criminal complaint against the cryptocurrency exchange on July 2, 2021, accusing them of operating a digital asset exchange without a license.

The crypto giant’s regulatory problems continue in other jurisdictions, however. On March 31, Japan’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) sent letters to multiple exchanges, including Binance, warning them that they are violating the country’s laws by operating without a license. The FSA issued its first formal warning letter to Binance back in 2021.

And on March 27, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a lawsuit accusing Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao of operating illegally in the country for years.

The CFTC has been investigating Binance since 2021 on allegations that it has allowed U.S. residents to use the exchange to buy and sell crypto derivatives. Current laws require any entity offering such services to U.S. citizens to register with the CFTC.

“Since the launch of its platform in 2017, Binance has taken a calculated, phased approach to increase its United States presence despite publicly stating its purported intent to ‘block’ or ‘restrict’ customers located in the United States from accessing its platform,” the filing charges. “All the while, Binance, Zhao, and Lim, the platform’s former Chief Compliance Officer (“CCO”), have each known that Binance’s solicitation of customers located in the United States subjected Binance to registration and regulatory requirements under U.S. law.”

The filing also alleges that Binance purposefully obscures the identities and locations of the entities operating on the trading platform, and “actively facilitated violations of U.S. law, including by assisting and instructing customers located in the United States to evade the compliance controls Binance purported to implement to prevent and detect violations of U.S. law.”

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