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Upbit launches in Thailand just days after regulators suspended Bitkub

Crypto exchange Upbit is entering the Thai market at a fortuitous time when the kingdom’s most popular exchange, Bitkub, remains suspended by government regulators.

According to reports in local media, a joint-venture crypto exchange between Upbit APAC and a group of Thai billionaires launched operations on Wednesday, Jan. 20. It follows the regulatory suspension of the country’s most popular trading platform Bitkub on Monday, which had a reported 97% share of the market before its closure.

According to Cointelegraph, Upbit Thailand is owned by CP Group heir and owner of Fortune magazine Chatchaval Jiaravanon, and two other high profile business magnates, Somphote Ahunai and Preecha Praipattaraku.

CP Group is Thailand’s biggest conglomerate, controlling the majority of the country’s food supply. It has fingers in a multitude of other pies, from government infrastructure projects to telecoms to Covid-19 vaccines, and now crypto.

Board member of Upbit Thailand, Praipattaraku, said that the firm applied for a digital asset exchange license from the Thai SEC couple of months ago:

“It’s a coincidence we received permission from the Securities and Exchange Commission at this time.”

Upbit is headquartered in South Korea and has operations in Singapore and Indonesia. According to Thai crypto pioneer and Satang exchange CEO, Poramin Insom, its Thai branch, backed with local money, has attracted the interest of a large group of capitalists. He told the Bangkok Post;

“Investors in the cryptocurrency market don’t have loyalty to any one market. They tend to open an account with every market and make more profit from arbitrage between the markets. We are not afraid of Thai competitors as much as foreign players such as Binance or Coinbase that have yet to enter the Thai market.”

Smaller local exchanges such as Zibmex and Kulap have reported an influx of customers this past week. On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Bitkub reopened its mobile application, with limited services. At the time of press, its website was still not functioning and when asked about the resumption of the trading platform, tech support could not provide a date.

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