Thailand has the right mix of ingredients for Bitcoin to succeed – a large number of foreign tourists, inflows of multiple foreign currencies and tech-friendly banks.
What is the catalyst required for Bitcoin to succeed in Thailand?
High dependence on tourism
Thailand is a tourist-friendly nation and tourism contributes to over 19% (directly and indirectly) of the country's annual GDP. Over 25 million tourists visit Thailand every year, spending in excess of USD 40 Bn in the country.
Tourism and travel account for 6% of the country's direct employment and a significant portion of the country's informal sector depends on revenue generated from foreign tourists.
Proliferation of money exchangers
Along with Thai Bahts, certain establishments also accept other foreign currencies like the US Dollar in Thailand. However, foreign tourists are required to change their fiat currencies to Thai Bahts for regular use.
There are multiple foreign exchange booths (especially in tourist locations) where foreign currencies can be exchanged. Using your ATM / credit card is also an option, but leads to additional charges (withdrawal fees, in addition to forex surcharges).
Banks invest in technology including Blockchain
Thai banks, like banks across the world, have been investing in technology to remain competitive. SCB Digital Ventures, the venture arm of Siam Commercial Bank, was one of the investors in Ripple's Series B Funding in September 2016.
Siam Commercial Bank has more than doubled its technology budget from 7% of the profits last year to 15% of the profits.
Government stand on Bitcoin
Bitcoin and Thailand are a natural fit, given the multiplicity of foreign currencies flowing into Thailand. The success or failure of Bitcoin in Thailand depends on the government's attitude towards cryptocurrencies.
While the Thai Central Bank, has in the past (2013), warned against the dangers of using Bitcoin (given the lack of existing laws), cryptocurrencies continue to flourish.
There are 2 exchanges (bitcoin.co.th and coins.co.th), whose payment options include leading Thai Banks such as Bangkok Bank and SCB. Clarity about the Thai government's opinion on Bitcoin could be the catalyst for Bitcoin adoption to take off in Thailand.