NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand (Reuters) – A cafe in northeast Thailand has become home to cryptocurrency traders, adding banks of screens showing the latest market moves and dishing out investment advice alongside coffee and cake.
Behind a calm exterior of cherry blossom trees, customers of HIP Coffee & Restaurant stare at their laptops, supping nervously on iced coffee – part of a surging interest in digital assets in Thailand that has regulators worried.
“It’s exciting for me to be here because I get to meet people who share the same interests,” said Detnarong Satianphut, a 35-year-old crypto trader.
“We (traders) get to exchange information because in the trading world we are coming up against millions of people.”
According to the latest official data, cryptocurrencies have been gaining momentum in Thailand, with as much as 251 billion baht ($7.62 billion) in digital assets traded in November.
Earlier this month, Thailand said it would start to regulate the use of digital assets as payments, warning of potential risks to financial stability and the overall economic system.
HIP cafe, which has been around since 2013, got its crypto makeover in 2020.
Since then, according to staff, its customers have doubled. Manager Oakkharawat Yongsakuljinda said the cafe provides alternative investment opportunities for people in the surrounding Nakhon Ratchasima province.
It offers free investment consulting and plans to start its own cryptocurrency coin.
Its customers say trading in the cafe offers them the best chance of success in a volatile market, in which the most well-known cryptocurrency, bitcoin, hit six-month lows this week.
“Having so many screens helps a lot … We immediately know and get to analyse crashing factors and whether we should buy,” said 23-year-old trader Apakon Putnok.
(Reporting by Vorasit Satienlerk and Jiraporn Kuhakan; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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