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FEB 27, 2024

Thai SEC seeks to revoke license of troubled Zipmex exchange

by CoinNess Global

Zipmex, the Asian digital asset exchange, faces another setback as the Securities and Exchange Commission Board of Thailand (SEC Board) moves to recommend the revocation of its digital asset business license.
This decision, announced last week, marks the latest in a series of challenges for the exchange, which has struggled to navigate the complexities of the crypto market's downturn.

Capital requirements failure

The SEC's recommendation stems from Zipmex's failure to meet the increased net capital requirement and address deficiencies in its personnel and management structure. These shortcomings were deemed unacceptable by the regulatory body, prompting a 15-day ultimatum issued on Feb. 1. Earlier this month, the Commission ordered a halt to Zipmex operations, enforcing a temporary suspension until such time as the company had improved its financial position and applied needed changes to its management structure.Despite this window for compliance, Zipmex fell short of meeting the specified conditions, leading to the current proposal for license revocation and the imposition of stringent regulatory measures on Thailand's digital asset exchanges.

Business suspension extension

During a meeting on Feb. 21, the SEC further resolved to extend Zipmex's business suspension, initiated on Feb. 1, and allowed clients to request asset returns on the exchange until March 11. Any unclaimed assets after this date will be required to be placed in a "trusted and secured system," with Zipmex obligated to report this to the SEC. Notably, even after the potential revocation of its license, Zipmex will retain its status as a limited company, subject to associated rights, responsibilities and liabilities, including the possibility of legal action.
Zipmex's woes trace back to 2022 when it faced significant challenges due to exposure to failed crypto lender Babel Finance. In July of that year, the exchange suspended withdrawals for weeks due to concerns over its ties to crypto lenders Babel and Celsius, both facing financial distress. Although access to Trade Wallets was restored after three days, Z Wallets remained inaccessible into the following year.

Failed Coinbase and V Ventures deals

In the midst of its troubles, Zipmex attracted interest from Coinbase, albeit without success. While Coinbase made a strategic investment in Zipmex, the acquisition attempt did not materialize as initially intended. Furthermore, Zipmex's financial struggles led it to file for debt relief in Singapore in July 2022, further complicating its position in the market.
The exchange's regulatory challenges continued as it faced scrutiny from the SEC regarding compliance with the Digital Assets Act. Despite attempts to secure acquisition deals, such as the proposed acquisition by Thai investor V Ventures, Zipmex has been unable to alleviate regulatory concerns or stabilize its operations effectively.
Since obtaining its license from the SEC in January 2020, Zipmex has operated in Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. However, its inability to address regulatory requirements and financial challenges has cast doubt on its future viability in these markets. 
In November of last year, the company itself announced a temporary cessation of trading in Thailand while it worked towards becoming compliant within that jurisdiction. Earlier this month, Thailand’s SEC took legal action against Akarlap Yimwilai, the former CEO of Zipmex Thailand.
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