In brief

  • Thailand's cinemas are opening their doors to Bitcoin.
  • But the Thai regulator has not always had an optimistic view of the wider crypto market.

Major Cineplex Group, the largest movie theatre chain in Thailand, has reportedly launched a digital asset payment pilot project enabling customers to pay in Bitcoin

The move comes as an attempt on behalf of the movie theatre conglomerate to back innovative payment options for customers. In Bangkok, customers were able to enter the Major Cineplex Ratchayothin movie theatre by scanning a QR code and paying in BTC. 

And the project is due to spread across the country. It is anticipated that 39 other movie theatres in Thailand will provide this option to customers by the end of 2021. 

Major Cineplex Group’s move comes as the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) seeks to attract cryptocurrency holders to the country. In the first phase of this plan, the TAT is targeting tourists from Japan, one of the top 10 countries by crypto usage. 

“If we can prepare the country for the cryptocurrency market, it will help attract more opportunities from high-spending tourists, especially the young and wealthy generations,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the TAT, adding, “Even Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and a crypto influencer, might be interested in visiting Thailand.” 

Thailand’s SEC and crypto

For Thailand’s home-grown crypto enthusiasts, however, it has not been plain sailing. 

Earlier this month, the country’s financial regulator was forced to backtrack on a controversial crypto regulation proposal that would have effectively blocked low- and middle-income individuals in Thailand from investing in cryptocurrencies. 

Done in the name of consumer protection, the proposal implied that cryptocurrencies—which are extremely volatile—were not an appropriate investment option for people who were not already high net worth, experienced investors. 

Instead, would-be investors would have to have two years worth of trading experience under their belt to trade in crypto, as well as having either 1 million baht (the local currency) in personal income ($32,000), a net worth of 10 million baht ($325,000), or an investment portfolio of 5 million baht ($162,000). 

However, following a significant backlash, the SEC has walked back the proposal.

Thailand’s crypto-loving cinephiles are—for the time being, at least—free to enjoy their popcorn in peace.