May 26, 2018
Latest News

Thailand's only listed-company cryptocurrency JFin begins trading

Blair McBride

Bangkok, May 2 (efe-epa).- Trading opened Wednesday for J Ventures' JFin coin, Thailand's first and only cryptocurrency tied to a listed company.

JFin's selling price on the Coin Asset (CAX) digital exchange platform was going between 4.2 and 5.9 baht per coin ($0.13-0.18).

The move follows JFin's Initial Coin Offering in February, when 100 million JFin coins sold out in 55 hours, according to a tweet from JFin Coin, earning 600 million baht ($18.9 million) for J Ventures, a subsidiary of Thai electronics retailer Jay Mart.

JFin joins a small number of coins linked to listed-companies, while most such as Bitcoin or Litecoin operate independently and without the backing of specific assets.

"JFin coin is the first coin ever to classify under a listed company," Thanawat Lertwattanark, CEO of J Ventures told EFE.

"(That means) people will trust in the branding, the asset backup, and the fundamentals of the listed company."

Furthermore, while many coins begin as innovative startups, they lack the kind of business infrastructure that Jay Mart brings.

"Startups have a lot of good ideas, but they don't have business fundamentals", said Thanawat, who pointed out that traditional, large companies tend not to encourage disruptive innovation.

The CEO's vision for the coin has two components; the first is to earn money through the ICO to develop J Ventures' consumer retail-oriented Decentralized Digital Lending Platform, which encompasses five platforms of big data, credit scoring, e-wallet, AI machine learning and blockchain.

The second is using JFin coins as promotional tokens for Jay Mart, and as an example Thanawat cites the possible release of iPhone 11: "If they buy it at a Jay Mart shop I can give you one or two coins. At that point in time the coin could be worth 6,000 baht."

How JFin will fare beyond Jay Mart, as coin traders and buyers will learn from Wednesday, depends on various factors, including Ministry of Finance and Security and Exchange Commission regulations on cryptocurrencies.

The Bank of Thailand and Ministry of Finance have been cautious towards cryptocurrencies.

On Feb. 12, 2018 the Bank issued a letter, as seen by EFE, warning investors that cryptocurrencies are still not legally-approved and to be wary of issuers of coins, their assets and the coins' price fluctuations.

The Thai government brought more clarity to the issue when, in a meeting on Mar. 13, the cabinet initially clarified the definition of digital assets and cryptocurrencies, and approved a bill setting a 15 percent tax on digital asset transactions, as reported by local media.

"It's about taxing, right now," said Poramin Insom, founder of Thailand Digital Asset Exchange, pointing to the draft regulation on the 15 percent tax rate.

His company is one of the five Thailand-based digital asset trading platforms that include BX, JIBex, Coin Asset and Cash2Coins.

Though Poramin acknowledges regulations are still in the draft stages, he worries about the effects of the tax on new companies like his.

"Rather than helping startups, it's just killing this business," he said, adding that he believes the tax will push traders to work outside Thailand.

JFin, however, has accepted the 15 percent tax rate and plans to stay put.

"We will continue to (trade) in Thailand first, but soon we will start to trade in other exchanges overseas as well," Thanawat said.

The larger challenge for JFin is whether such a new coin operating in the equally new field of blockchain finance can achieve its goals, Sathapon Patanakua CEO and founder of SmartContract (Thailand) Co, Ltd. told EFE.

The issue, he said, is "whether or not they can build the decentralised digital lending platforms as promised and whether they can identify the real use of tokens within that platform."

Cryptocurrency, a form of virtual money operating independent of a central bank, began to appear in 2009 with Bitcoin, which has grown steadily in value and peaked at a historic high of $19,783 per coin on Dec. 17, 2017.

The digital currencies, with more than 1,000 existing worldwide, have divided opinions, with critics saying they're volatile and tainted by their use for illegal activities, and supporters alleging they can revolutionize finance and make transactions more secure.

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