The first virtual banks will be allowed to operate in Thailand by 2025.
This decision is part of the country’s strategy to encourage existing players to innovate and expand their service offerings while also cutting prices and allowing for a broader range of loan options.
In order to submit an application, applicants must have a minimum registered capital of 5 billion baht (roughly $152 million) that must scale up to 10 billion (roughly $304 million) when fully operational.
Bloomberg reports that the Bank of Thailand plans to issue three licenses in 2024 before operations start in 2025.
Virtual banks will have the same permissions as traditional banks except for the ability to open physical branches and operate ATMs.
During the first year of operation, virtual banks will be closely monitored to prevent financial risks and ensure they are operating according to license requirements.
The move is not only intended to beat the competition but to also boost Thailand’s economy, which is expected to grow by 3.6 percent in 2023.
Thailand has been taking a more open and progressive approach to cryptocurrencies since 2018 — when it legalized the trading of seven approved digital currencies.
It has become one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to cryptocurrency acceptance, placing seventh in 2021 when compared to other countries based on on-chain value received as a metric for cryptocurrency adoption.