Thailand’s crypto exchange Bitkub to go public in Hong Kong

abdelaziz Fathi

Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bitkub plans to list in Hong Kong bourse as early as 2024, its CEO told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) during a regional economic forum.

Citing geographical location, sound rule of law and high liquidity in stock markets, Jirayut Srupsrisopa, founder and CEO of Bitkub Capital Group, said these are the reasons for choosing Hong Kong over New York. However, he expects that Western companies will continue to prefer New York when they go public.

“I think our strength is in the southeast Asian region. So it’s better to be connected to the market closer to home,” he said during an interview at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

According to Srupsrisopa, Hong Kong’s markets enjoy deeper liquidity when compared to Singapore, but urged authorities to further embrace the new technologies and speed up reforming its legal framework for digital asset platforms.

“Hong Kong has always been a leader in the financial space. But to keep the momentum going and to stay the leader, you guys should have freer and more open regulations and be more receptive to embracing new technologies,” the entrepreneur said.

Commenting on the recent crash of FTX, Srupsrisopa said: “A few centralised companies mishandling customers’ funds, or having very bad governance doesn’t mean that cryptocurrency is bad, right? Cryptocurrency is actually a much better product. And customers will always choose what is best for them.”

Bitkub’s remark come at a time when Thailand’s regulators target his Bangkok-based cryptocurrency exchange over allegations of inaccurate reporting and wash trading on its platform.

In its order, the commission said authorized agents of Bitkub sought to intentionally give the appearance of inflated trading interest by placing matching buy and sell orders through a prohibited practice called wash trading, where trades are executed without transferring ownership of an asset.

Perhaps the biggest setback to Bitkub was when Thailand’s oldest lender, Siam Commercial Bank, cancelled its plan to acquire a 51% controlling stake in the cryptocurrency exchange for roughly 18 billion baht ($500 million).

The deal to buy a majority stake in Bitkub has been already stuck in due diligence more than 10 months since the bid was originally unveiled back in November 2011. The deal had valued Bitkub at more than $1.0 billion, making it the latest unicorn in a country once seen as barren in terms of startups.

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