Digital Platform Service Operation to Be Regulated

With the rise of modern technology and the spread of COVID-19, businesses are increasingly turning to online platforms as a way to operate without needing to travel. These platforms cover a wide range of services, such as online marketplaces, social commerce and food delivery. In general, terms of use imposed by service operators should be transparent with their users. They should provide clear information about their policies, pricing, data usage and other relevant information. They should also give users the opportunity to make decisions about how their data is used and how they are served by the service. This will ensure that users are aware of how their data is being used and that they are not being taken advantage of.

The regulation of digital platform services to be imposed by the government should be based on a set of fair and transparent rules that are applicable to all parties. These rules should ensure the safety of users, ensure data privacy and security, protect against anti-competitive practices and ensure that the user experience is not compromised. Additionally, government should take an active role in monitoring the digital platform services and enforcing these regulations, as well as providing a framework for dispute resolution between users, companies and government.

The regulation should also consider the innovative nature of digital platform services and allow room for experimentation and innovation. Additionally, the government should also provide incentives for companies to innovate and create new services. This will ensure that digital platform services remain competitive and continue to innovate in order to provide the best user experience possible.

As for Thailand, the Royal Decree on Supervision of Digital Platform Services Operation Requiring a Notification (“Royal Decree”) was announced on 23 December 2022 and will be effective 240 days after the announcement (i.e., 20 August 2023) in order to govern this matter.

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Digital Platform Services shall refer to the provision of electronic platform services as a medium with data management that connects Digital Platform Service Operators (“Platform Operator”), consumers or users via a computer network in order to enable electronic transactions, whether or not a service charge is charged. Digital Platform Service under this Royal Decree excludes the Digital Platform Services that are intended to be used to offer such Platform Operator’s or its affiliates’ goods or services, regardless of whether such goods or services are offered to third parties or its affiliates.

The Platform Operator under the Royal Decree must report its operations to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (“ETDA”) and examples of qualifications are as follows:

  1. A natural person who operates digital platform service in Thailand and earns more than 1,800,000 THB per year or more than 50,000,000 THB if the Platform Operator is a legal entity; and
  2. Digital platform service with average monthly users in Thailand over 5,000 users.

As the Royal Decree’s main objective is to protect consumers within Thailand, regardless of Platform Operators operating outside of Thailand, this Royal Decree determines that the digital platform services that operate outside Thailand and provide services with one of the following characteristics shall be deemed to provide services to users in Thailand, namely, (1) Thai language digital platforms,  (2) digital platforms with the domain name “.th” or “.ไทย” (3) digital platforms that accept payment in Thai baht, (4) Digital platforms governed by laws of Thailand and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Thailand and others as specified in this Royal decree.

Platform Operators who will operate digital platform services must report the following information and evidence to ETDA:

  1. Platform Operator’s information such as name, surname or legal entity’s name, identification number or company registration number, address, accounting period and contact channel;
  2. Digital platform service information such as platform’s name, type of the platform, platform service channel (i.e., URL or application), value of transaction made on digital platform service (if any), etc.; and
  3. Users’ information such as user type (i.e. person who offers goods or services to consumer through digital platform service, customers and etc.), the total number of user and the total amount for each type of user, service provider’s information (i.e. freight forwarder and warehouse service provider), the total number of service provider and the total amount for each type of service provider, information and type of complaint, along with the handling of the complaint and the settlement of such dispute, the information of representative in Thailand (for the Platform Operator who operates inside Thailand) and the Platform Operator’s consent to for ETDA to access such reported information.

The Platform Operator will be issued a registered receipt and will be able to begin operating the digital platform services once ETDA receives the aforementioned report and evidence. Any major change must be reported to ETDA within 30 days as specified in this Royal Decree. Furthermore, ETDA will provide a channel for publicizing the digital platform services’ list and status (for example, the current list of Platform Operators and those whose receipt has been revoked). Please note that the information and evidence listed above must be reported annually within 60 days from the end of the calendar year (Natural Person Platform Operator) or fiscal year (Legal Entity Platform Operator).

Platform Operators may also be required to provide users with terms and conditions of service, assess risk, prepare risk management measure, system security measure, mitigation measure and other duties as specified in the Royal Decree in order to compensate or remedy those damaged by the use of digital platform services. Plus, the ETDA shall consider announcing the rules, procedures and conditions governing the period for business termination, the transfer of digital platform services to another licensee, the management and collection of data relating to digital identity proofing and authentication and any other matters deemed appropriate in order to prevent damage, protect users and ensure that users can use the services continuously.

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Platform Operators whose qualifications are required to report ETDA may continue to operate their businesses only if they report their digital platform business operations to ETDA within 90 days of the Royal Decree’s effective date. On the other hand, those who wish to discontinue such operations must notify ETDA within 90 days of the Royal Decree’s effective date as well.

There are also other details regarding the types of digital platform services, duties and various procedures which should be studied further by Platform Operators. Please note that if any law specifically governs over a specific type of digital platform services, the Platform Operator must comply with such law only if it practices in accordance with and in a manner that does not fall below the provisions of this Royal Decree.

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn, Managing Partner.

Supervision of Financial Business Groups of Commercial Banks that Operate Business and Transact on Digital Asset

Supervision of Financial Business Groups of Commercial Banks that Operate Business and Transact on Digital Asset

Digital Asset plays a significant role in contributing to the development of innovative financial services which is beneficial to consumers and the economy as a whole. However, Digital Asset exposed to risks in many forms, especially in cases where consumers have an insufficient understanding of Digital Asset, and is also at risk of being used as a tool for money laundering or terrorist financing.

In order to balance between supporting innovations related to Digital Asset of the financial business groups of commercial banks for benefits and managing risks that may arise, it is an important concept for the Bank of Thailand to improve and defines relevant rules for business operation and transaction related to Digital Asset to be more flexible and to allow discreet investment and business relevant to Digital Asset under the rules and investment ratio in Digital Asset Business as required.

Therefore, the Bank of Thailand has issued the Notification of the Bank of Thailand No. SorNorSor. 6/2565 on Regulations on the Supervision of Financial Business Groups of Commercial Banks that Operate Business and Transact on Digital Asset (“Notification”) which comes to force on October 22, 2022,  and applies to commercial banks, parent companies, subsidiaries, and affiliated companies of commercial banks in financial business groups according to the financial institutions business law with key principles such as: (1) to allow companies in financial business groups except commercial banks to discreetly operate a Digital Asset business under flexible regulations, and support technologies or development of financial services to increase financial system’s efficiency for the benefit of the people, business and economy; (2) to supervise and manage the risks from transactions in relation to Digital Asset; (3) to protect consumers and for consumers to receive fair services; and (4) to raise the Digital Asset business standard.

This Notification stipulates that commercial banks can transact on Digital Asset but cannot operate a Digital Asset business, and companies in financial business groups can operate businesses and transact in Digital Asset as prescribed in this Notification without contravening the key principles of this Notification and other relevant laws of Thailand and internationally such as prohibiting the use of Digital Asset as a means of payment or encouraging the general public to hold Digital Asset. However, such transactions are subject to the purpose of developing innovations to increase the efficiency and quality of providing financial business.

Furthermore, this Notification also specifies the principles of risk management governance in the following subjects:

  1. Limiting the amount of credit, investing, creating contingent liabilities, or conducting transactions similar to lending to businesses related to digital assets (Digital Asset Related Business Limit)
  2. Good Governance Supervision
  3. Capital maintenance
  4. Liquid assets maintenance
  5. Classification and provisioning
  6. Supervision of large debtors
  7. Intragroup Contagion Risk
  8. Official supervision (Supervisory Review Process)
  9. Disclosure
  10. Know Your Customer: KYC
  11. Consumer Protection

Author: Panisa Suwanmatajarn, Managing Partner