Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Sanjay Popli, CSO of Cryptomind, a one-stop-service for crypto- and blockchain-related businesses in Thailand. Sanjay has been an active member of Thailand’s blockchain community, co-organizing ABR’s Unblock meetups as well as moderating a recent panel discussion about opportunities in Thailand’s cryptospace.
In our interview, Sanjay talked about Thailand’s blockchain ecosystem, the business landscape in Thailand and its potential for growth, promoting education to drive the blockchain community, and the company’s efforts in working with Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Asia Blockchain Review: Can you tell us about the vision behind Cryptomind and the company’s long-term goals?
Sanjay Popli: Cryptomind’s vision is to become the one-stop service for blockchain and cryptocurrency solutions in Thailand. Our long-term goal is to establish Cryptomind Group as the ‘go-to-brand’ for all sorts of things related to cryptocurrency and blockchain. When people think about doing business related to cryptocurrency and blockchain, we want them to reach out to us.
We have different business units, comprising Media, Advisory (Marketing Advisory, ICO/STO Advisory, Technology Advisory), Community (organizing events and monthly meetups), Academy (education including public courses, corporate workshops, and training programs) and Conference.
ABR: How is the blockchain ecosystem in Thailand? How is Cryptomind a part of driving this community?
SP: The blockchain ecosystem in Thailand is a tight-knit community, especially given that most of the companies work well together despite being competitors. The industry is still in its infancy, so I expect to see a lot of foreign companies and foreign investment.
Our team has been in the industry for a few years; most of us started as investors in the community looking for people to share ideas and collaborate, including on growing the industry.
One of the main focuses of Cryptomind is building the local community. To this end, we have two monthly meetups — Bitcoin Addict, a Thai-language monthly meetup; and Unblock Bangkok, an English-language meetup held in collaboration with Asia Blockchain Review.
Apart from that, we are actively collaborating with other groups of people that organize their own gatherings, such as the Developer Meet Up and various project-based events.
Most of the meetups have a decent turnout of 100 – 120 people, and we aim to keep this up to help promote the industry and push for the adoption of blockchain technology.
ABR: Is there anything that stands out as an issue in terms of implementing blockchain in Thailand?
SP: I think the main issue, initially, was that a lot of companies we encountered early on believed that implementing blockchain in their organization would be a silver bullet for their problems. Even when arranging Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) or Security Coin Offerings (STOs), many organizations believed that ICOs/STOs are an easy way to raise funds, but weren’t aware of the hidden, and sometimes expensive, costs.
However, we do see some major corporations in Thailand push for blockchain implementation on a broader scale. For example, Kasikorn Bank has KBTG (Kasikorn Business Technology Group), its research and development unit that specializes in the financial applications of technology, such as for international remittance, e-KYC (electronic Know Your Customer), identity repositories, and digitization of financial documents.
Nonetheless, a common problem that companies face is finding quality and reliable blockchain programmers.
ABR: At the recent Techsauce Global Summit 2019, where you were invited as one of the panelists representing the blockchain space, you spoke about the importance of education in order to leverage blockchain in society. Do you think that the industry has yet to ‘graduate’ from that education phase?
SP: I think that blockchain education is vital to ensure that the technology indeed realizes its full potential.
I believe that we are still lacking in terms of personnel and resources in the industry, from developers to analysts, and even people who actually understand the real use cases of the technology. Because the technology is still so new, it’s hard to come across people with blockchain knowledge and capabilities.
No disrespect to online courses, but I met a guy who had very limited knowledge of blockchain but claimed to be a blockchain expert because he received certification from an online blockchain course. This is quite a scary thing for the industry as a whole.
ABR: Can you tell us about the Thailand Blockchain Association? What role does Cryptomind play in the organization?
SP: The Thailand Blockchain Association was initially created to support blockchain/crypto-related businesses (Exchanges, Advisories, Media Agencies, Wallets) in Thailand and to guide the industry in the right direction. It represents the public and private sectors in coordinating with government agencies.
Cryptomind’s role is to hold educational sessions and alert stakeholders and the general public to any scam projects we come across.
ABR: Thailand is, among other countries, pro-actively developing its regulatory framework. Working closely with Thailand’s SEC, do you expect any movements this year in terms of STO regulation?
SP: Having worked and dealt with the SEC of Thailand, I can say they are quite proactive in learning about digital assets and blockchain.
After recent talks with the regulator, I’ve learned that they will hold a public hearing soon about regulating Digital Asset Investment Consultancies and Digital Asset Funds. This means that the cryptospace in Thailand will likely have a very similar regulatory framework to that of traditional finance.
As for STO regulation, the SEC has been working very hard on this front. With ICO portals ready, it is natural for Thailand to progress toward STO regulation. The SEC has confirmed that we will be hearing more about this very soon, so please continue watching this space.
ABR: What new projects and developments can we expect to see from Cryptomind in 2019-2020?
SP: Cryptomind’s roadmap for 2019 includes:
ABR: The Thai government has required a license to establish an ICO portal, for which there are currently three licensed companies and another three with pre-conditional licenses. How do you see the ICO market in Thailand right now? What is your position on this regulatory framework in terms of the Thai blockchain space?
SP: With the regulatory framework that emerged, it became more suitable for an established company to run ICOs in the Thai market. The ICO market sentiment in Thailand is still very quiet; we have not seen a fully regulated ICO go through an ICO portal yet. However, I believe that the framework does well to pave the way for STO regulation.
ABR: Recently, you hosted a fireside chat inviting Coinman and Bitcoin Addict Thailand to discuss Facebook’s Libra coin, and on your Facebook page, you’ve actively shared news about Libra. What has been the response to the event? What are your personal thoughts about Libra?
SP: Our last event was a big hit, with around 120 guests in attendance. Part of the reason for the high turnout was thanks to one of our speakers, a representative of the Bank of Thailand. The meetup ended with a light, half-hour fireside chat on Libra.
In my personal opinion, I think it’s great that Libra will help raise awareness and the potential of cryptocurrency. The Libra initiative seems to be paving the way for the mass adoption of cryptocurrency. We can see that major corporations in different countries are coming out with their own cryptocurrency as well.
ABR: Can you tell us about the Democrat Party’s unveiling of its economic ‘Avengers’ team to help draft policies for the party? What role do you play, and what agenda will you be driving for the party? Also, which industries in Thailand are ripe for blockchain adoption?
SP: To give you a brief history, the ‘Avengers’ team is an initiative of Democrat Party Leader Jurin Laksanavisit, who believes in the importance of the private sector to policy reform.
The team is led by Prinn Panitchpakdi. Prinn and I have worked together on various blockchain initiatives and projects to develop the ecosystem in Thailand.
My role would be to see how technology and blockchain can help shape national policy and solve various problems, whether it be agriculture, e-commerce, or education.
Apart from that, I would be advocating for building personnel to support the future economy. For example, the Deputy Education Minister wants to push coding to become the ‘third language’. This is an initiative that we need in place to create the right personnel and resources. One of our major pain points is the lack of blockchain coders.
About Asia Blockchain Review
Asia Blockchain Review is the largest initiative for media and community building in Asia for blockchain technology. It aims to connect all blockchain enthusiasts on a regional scale and facilitate the technological foundation of blockchain through a range of group discussions, technical workshops, conferences, and consulting programs.
Our goal is to cultivate and encourage a collaborative community for our members to gather, share their experiences and endeavors in the blockchain space, and brainstorm the potential uses of blockchain technology.
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