Adoption matters most in crypto trade, with giant techs expected to join the craze – Bitkub.com CEO
Adoption matters most in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries, while giant techs “of the caliber of Google, Amazon, and Apple” are expected to diversify their assets into cryptocurrency, said Bitkub.com or Bitkub Exchange CEO Atthakrit Chimplapibul in an exclusive interview with Thai PBS World earlier in July.
Saying there are many factors that could affect cryptocurrencies in the short-term, the CEO of Thailand’s leading digital asset exchange platform, and one of the best performing Thai startups, said “in the long-run, what matters the most is adoption. Cryptocurrency is an asset class that is valued by adoption. If people are using it, it has value. If people are not using it or accepting it around the world, it has no value.”
With prices of Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies being highly volatile, especially amid China’s intensifying crackdown on cryptocurrencies, fearing they could be used in illegal activities, which pushed the Bitcoin price down 6% at the end of June, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s tweets that drove the prices up and down drastically, short-term factors are not that big of a concern, Mr. Atthakrit said.
Bitcoin was traded in a “narrow margin”, between $31,000 and $36,670, last week, highlighting the uncertainty investors have about the price direction, which may cause turbulence to follow. A peak in digital asset trade volume was recorded in May this year, at 214 billion Baht, before it dropped in June to 84 billion Baht, according to Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“In the short-term, we will keep seeing cryptocurrency markets fluctuating. There will be a lot of turbulence in the short-term, because a lot more people have joined this industry, compared to the first day that I joined it,” he said.
“A lot of newcomers are coming in. I think the market is not that mature yet. It’s still young but, in the long run, we will keep seeing institutional money coming in. We will see a lot more adoptions along the way and, in the long run, I think we’re going to see the market growing in a more sustainable way,” he added.
Saying he got inspired by the book called “The Industries of the Future”, Mr. Atthakrit was “fascinated by the fact that it could change the way we live our lives together forever and that we could do financial remittance without needing to have a bank account.”
With huge billboards visible along Bangkok’s streets and highways and two million registered users, mainly located in Thailand, and Bitkub.com being among the 50 most visited websites in Thailand, one cannot deny that Bitkub has done very well since it was founded in 2018. The company has grown 1000% since, especially with growing interest in digitizing assets amid the pandemic.
46 cryptocurrencies are listed for trade on the Bitkub platform. Besides Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are the most popular cryptocurrencies globally, among currencies being traded on the platform are USDT or Tether, whose value is linked to the US Dollar, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Binance Coin, Lumen, IOST, Thailand’s OmiseGo or OMG and its own Bitkub Coin, known as KUB, which was launched in May and already has hundreds of thousand holders and about 10-30 million Baht worth of trade volume per day.
The startup, which is named after the most popular cryptocurrency “Bitcoin”, with a Thai twist, has about 1,500 staff in the Bangkok office, and is among a handful cryptocurrency traders with a license from the SEC. According to Mr. Atthakrit, the company acts like a stock exchange, stock broker and TSD (Thailand Securities Depository).
“We process trading activities on our platform ourselves. We do identity verification ourselves. We are like a TSD because we are the ones safeguarding our customers’ assets, both Thai Baht and cryptocurrencies,” he said.
The company has been very active in pushing for cryptocurrencies to be used in more financial transactions. On July 10th, it struck a deal with GQ Apparel in allowing the use of Ripple’s XRP and Stella’s XLM at the GQ DNA Concept Store. In June, the company cooperated with Origin Property in allowing the use of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether’s USDT in real estate payments.
Bitkub also has a subsidiary, called Bitkub Academy, offering people both free and paid courses on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. The company is doing KYC (Know Your Customer) using advanced technology to identify the customers, which includes the use of “selfies”.
When talking about Thailand’s tight regulations, Mr. Atthakrit noted their importance, but pointed to some of the hurdles which certain rules, such as the new National Digital ID (NDID), which requires people to be identified physically, have presented.
“I think Thai people will find it hard to do that process in the beginning. We will need to wait and see. We’re moving to a more online way of things and forcing every customer to go to a bank branch, or go to an ATM machine or a kiosk, is quite a big obstacle in my opinion,” he said.
With most other businesses suffering from the pandemic, interest in cryptocurrencies has surged as investors are looking to diversify their assets, Mr. Atthakrit said.
“When a company’s performance drops, due to COVID, usually the stock price goes down with it, and that leads many investors to an alternative asset class, like Bitcoin.”
Another factor in the company’s growth is the raft of government subsidy campaigns that “are helpful to the economy but, at times, can cause its national currency to depreciate in value and, when that happens, an alternative asset class, like Bitcoin, appreciates in value. This makes it even more attractive to investors and these two factors combined have affected our revenue positively,” he said.
Mr. Atthakrit is confident that cryptocurrencies are the way of the future, and that it’s all just the beginning of decentralised currencies becoming a norm in financial transactions. He is also hopeful that the start-up will become a unicorn, which is a business worth at least a billion US dollars, in the future.
“Our vision is to democratize opportunities for everyone via leading innovation and, so far, we have enabled people to remit money abroad without needing a bank account, or without needing to go through a centralised party. We have enabled Thai people to trade in one of the best performing assets in the world, which is Bitcoin, and there is going to be a lot more emerging from this amazing industry,” he said.
By Hathai Techakitteranun