Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand’s oldest bank, is relooking at the agreement it made to acquire a majority stake in Bitkub Online for $490 million in November 2021. The deal was to be closed earlier this year.
However, SCB says there is still due diligence to be carried out. The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Bitkub and its chief executive, last month, for creating “artificial trading volume” on its platform. Moreover, five officials were fined in May for breaching guidelines when the company listed its own digital coins.
As such, SCB has not proposed completion date for the proposed acquisition of Bitkub. Sources say increased regulatory scrutiny in Thailand’s cryptocurrency industry is tempering SCB’s ambitions to become a market leader in digital assets. But the acquisition delay has raised questions about the 115-year-old financial group’s intention to become a regional fintech powerhouse.
Therdsak Thaveeteeratham, an analyst at Asia Plus Securities, highlighted Bitkub as a key step for SCB to achieve its expansion into a digital asset and fintech businesses. In fact, the delay casts shadows on the deal completion and would be a significant blow to the bank’s regional tech ambition.
But SCB is primed to follow through with its expansion into fintech. It saw broad-based digital adoption in the first quarter for users, loans, and revenue. Rena Kwok, an analyst, says SCB may continue to focus on high-growth fintech business. The institute’s peer-leading digital transformation and endeavor into high-growth fintech space could offer medium-term earnings drivers.