As the price of bitcoin skyrocketed this year, new and experienced investors flocked to exchanges to cash in on the latest market upswing.
In Thailand, cryptocurrency trading platforms had a rocky start, with some collapsing unexpectedly while others drew the ire of regulators.
Yet the massive influx of new traders has been a boon for budding local trading platforms trying to become the market leader in Thailand.
Bitazza, a local digital asset broker, just surpassed 100,000 customers in April, a milestone in the company’s goal of becoming Southeast Asia’s premier digital asset trading platform.
The number of trading accounts on Bitazza’s platform rose by 25% from 80,000 in the first week of April, said chief executive Kavin Phongpandech.
The digital exchange was co-founded by five investors in 2018 and it launched services in December 2019 with 30,000 members.
After the scandalous closure of BX, the country’s first digital asset exchange established before the Digital Asset Decree took effect, local crypto traders were forced to seek new platforms.
Most moved to foreign exchanges they saw as more reliable than their Thai counterparts, whose sparse oversight caused some users to lose assets from closures.
Others chose local dealers like Bitazza in hopes that new regulations by the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission could better guarantee their rapidly appreciating assets.
Bitazza’s success did not happen because of the misfortunes of other startups, but rather unique business strategies to differentiate the firm from competitors, Mr Kavin said.
Since inception, the company has positioned itself as a homegrown crypto trading platform managed by local partners and a team with a clear vision of becoming Asean’s leading digital asset platform connected to regional crypto markets.
Bitazza tokens (BTZ), the platform’s utility tokens with a limited supply of 300 million units, were awarded to members who registered before the sign-up period, about three months before the official launch.
Utility tokens can be exchanged for products and services, such as discounts on trading fees and access to new features.
Traders can also earn BTZ through a loyalty programme, where members are gifted BTZ when they trade, recommend the platform to friends, participate in the company’s activities, and/or purchase merchandise from its partners.
“Our market positioning is different because we have the most trading partners and allow crypto traders to buy, sell and trade their coins for other cryptocurrencies and fiat money such as baht and USDT [Tether],” he said.
The prices of cryptocurrencies on the platform are similar to prices on the global market. Bitazza does not quote a price on its own, but refers to data on global trade networks, giving customers access to both global and standardised prices as well as high liquidity.
Bitazza recorded a monthly trading volume of 6 million baht in January 2020. In the first two months of 2020, monthly trading volume surpassed 302 million baht.
Fast forward to January 2021 and monthly trading volume rose to 676 million baht, before surging to 1.5 billion in February and 1.9 billion in March, making Bitazza the country’s largest digital asset broker licensee.
A DOSE OF REALITY
Mr Kavin said his life goal today is quite different from when he was a fresh graduate at 22, completing three master’s degrees from the University of California, Berkeley in computer science, economics and statistics.
“I dreamt of establishing my own bank,” he told the Bangkok Post with a shy smile.
His dream was inspired by his experiences in mobile and electronic banking when he was studying in the US.
Mobile banking was a novelty…
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