Thailand’s largest crypto exchange Bitkub eyes 2025 IPO

Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bitkub plans to list in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) as early as 2025, its CEO Jirayut Srupsrisopa said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Bitkub’s owner is hiring financial advisers to facilitate its planned initial public offering (IPO) listing. Srupsrisopa said this strategic step would help attract new capital while elevating Bitkub’s market presence.

Despite a reduction in workforce by 6% over 2022 and 2023, Bitkub is on a hiring spree, with plans to increase its employee count to 1,000 by 2025, effectively doubling its current staff of 2,000.

The decision to pursue an IPO was first hinted at in a shareholder letter in 2023, though specific details were not disclosed at that time. However, the initial plan involved the floating in the Hong Kong bourse. Citing geographical location, sound rule of law and high liquidity in stock markets, CEO said these are the reasons for choosing Hong Kong over New York. However, he expects that Western companies will continue to prefer New York when they go public.

Based in Bangkok, Bitkub is Thailand’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, boasting a 77% market share as of December 2023 with daily trading volumes hovering around $30 million.

Bitkub’s move towards an IPO comes at a time when the Thai crypto market sees varied activities among its key players, including Upbit’s entry in 2021 and the operational suspension of Zipmex in November 2023 due to regulatory actions.

Bitkub’s IPO also comes a few months after Thailand’s regulators targeted his Bangkok-based cryptocurrency exchange over allegations of inaccurate reporting and wash trading on its platform.

In its order, the commission said authorized agents of Bitkub sought to intentionally give the appearance of inflated trading interest by placing matching buy and sell orders through a prohibited practice called wash trading, where trades are executed without transferring ownership of an asset.

Perhaps the biggest setback to Bitkub was when Thailand’s oldest lender, Siam Commercial Bank, cancelled its plan to acquire a 51% controlling stake in the cryptocurrency exchange for roughly 18 billion baht ($500 million).

The deal to buy a majority stake in Bitkub has been already stuck in due diligence more than 10 months since the bid was originally unveiled back in November 2011. The deal had valued Bitkub at more than $1.0 billion, making it the latest unicorn in a country once seen as barren in terms of startups.