Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has teamed up with Sarath Ratanavadi’s Gulf Energy Development to look into setting up a digital asset trading platform in the Southeast Asian country.
Gulf Energy said the agreement with Binance is a response to the “rapid growth” of Thailand’s digital infrastructure in the foreseeable future, according to the firm’s statement filed to the Bangkok stock exchange on Monday. The two companies will study the possibility of establishing a crypto exchange and related business in Thailand, Gulf Energy said.
Binance described the collaboration as the “first step” in exploring opportunities in Thailand. “Our goal is to work with government, regulators and innovative companies to develop the crypto and blockchain ecosystem in Thailand,” the company’s spokesperson said.
Gulf Energy, one of Thailand’s biggest power producers, has been diversifying its portfolio with investments into renewable energy, motorway projects and telecommunications. The company in October reached an agreement with Singapore’s telecom giant Singtel to develop a data center business in Thailand. It came months after Gulf Energy acquired more shares of Intouch Holdings, which owns Thailand’s largest mobile phone operator.
Gulf Energy’s tie up with Binance marks the first time the company has ventured into the crypto industry, which serves to underscore the rising popularity of digital assets among the country’s residents. In November, Thailand’s oldest lender Siam Commercial Bank announced that it had acquired 51% stake in local crypto exchange Bitkub for 17.85 billion baht ($538.7 million).
The crypto boom has also attracted the attention of Thailand’s financial authorities who recently stepped up scrutiny of the nascent industry. The nation’s central bank said in December it was considering rules that would regulate the usage of cryptocurrencies as a mean of payments. The move is said to be aimed at controlling the risks digital assets might bring to financial stability and also provide some safeguards for investors.
Binance has already run into trouble with the Thailand’s regulator. Last July, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand filed a criminal complaint against the crypto giant for operating without a license. The offence carries a penalty of two to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to 500,000 baht. Binance said earlier that the platform had not been actively soliciting users in Thailand.
Binance was established in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao, who goes by CZ, and fellow cofounder He Yi. They built it into the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, according to CoinGecko’s ranking. Binance processed $2.3 trillion worth of bitcoin and other crypto assets in December alone, says market data researcher CryptoCompare.