Bitcoin is NOT illegal in Thailand
"I can confirm that Bitcoin is not illegal [in Thailand]," says BTCXpert and former Bank of Thailand employee Frankie Bishop. An official announcement on Bitcoin has yet to be made by the Bank of Thailand, and none of the Thai media channels report any such announcement.
The Bank of Thailand does not decide the legality of Bitcoin. Any regulations on crypto-currencies in Thailand will need to go through its formal process like Bitcoin does in other countries. None of the "Roles and Responsbilities" listed by the Bank of Thailand give it authority to determine the legal status of any currency.
In Bitcoin.co.th's statement headlined "Trading suspended due to Bank of Thailand advisement", the senior members of the Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department only "advised" Bitcoin.co.th against conducting business in Bitcoin because of the "lack of existing applicable laws, capital controls and the fact that Bitcoin straddles multiple financial facets". Bishop says that it is atypical for foreigners to approach the Bank of Thailand to solicit policy on the exchange of a particular currency.
The furthest the Bank of Thailand's authority reaches in relation to foreign exchange media is stated in the Exchange Control Act (B.E. 2485) and Ministerial Regulation No. 13 (B.E. 2497) of that act. The language actually seems favorable towards Bitcoin if it were to fall under the definition of a foreign currency in Thailand. "Foreign currencies can be transferred or brought into Thailand without limit" but need to be deposited "with an authorized bank within 360 days of receipt", and amounts "exceeding USD 20,000 or its equivalent must declare to a customs officer". It seems that confusion may have arisen particularly over whether Bitcoin.co.th was authorized to conduct a foreign exchange business, because "[a]ny transactions not conducted through the above-mentioned licensees require approval from the Competent Officer on a case by case basis."
The verbal comments were made to Bitcoin.co.th and not about Bitcoin. The comments should be considered in this context.
Bishop says the recent Bitcoin-Thailand drama "will all brush aside quickly and business can be conducted as usual. This is a non-event as far as I am concerned. I have been in the country for over 10 years and had a registered business myself.
"This just shows how fast information can spread via the Internet."