Thailand relaxes foreign shareholding & operational requirements for international money transfer operations

On January 24, 2019, the Bank of Thailand issued a regulation relaxing the qualifications and operational requirements for international money transfer service providers, with the aim of increasing flexibility for the benefit of consumers, and encouraging participation by new service providers. The new regulation took effect on January 31, 2019.

The key amendments are as follows:

Foreign Shareholding Restrictions

Under the previous regime, any international payment transfer company registered as a limited company or publically limited company required at least 75% of its total shares to be held by Thai nationals. The new notification reduces this substantially to 25% shareholding by Thai nationals.

Any company providing international money transfer services must also have at least one Thai director, domiciled in Thailand, with the authority to control or manage the company.

Operational Requirements

In addition to shareholding structures, the new regulation also addresses the following operational issues:

International money transfer operators can now make or receive payments in Thai Baht, to or from service users in Thailand, by various methods, such as via bank deposits or credit cards.

Service users no longer have to submit identification documents in person for international money transfer services provided online.

Where an international money transfer operator changes the manner in which services are provided, such as from counter service to electronic means, prior consent must be obtained from the Exchange Control Officer.

For more information, and for assistance in setting up an international money transfer operation, please contact Tilleke & Gibbins at [email protected].