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Thai government to launch three blockchain pilot projects

Mon, 18 Nov 2019, 10:29 am UTC

The Finance Ministry of Thailand has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Krungthai Bank for three blockchain pilot projects, Bangkok Post reported.

The three projects intend to introduce the technology in three areas – value-added tax (VAT) refund service for foreign tourists, scripless savings bond issuance and letters of credit (LC) for electronic procurement.

VAT Refunds

As per the report, the ministry is planning to roll out a blockchain-based VAT-refund system for foreign tourists. The system will allow instant sharing of details of tourists’ purchases with the Revenue Department and the Customs Department as soon as the information is entered by the shops, expediting the process of refunds, Finance Minister Uttama Savanayana said.

Starting November 28, foreign tourists would be able to claim VAT refunds via an application. Blockchain technology would help automate the existing paper-based processes, thereby saving the use of 10 million sheets of paper a year. It would also cut cash management costs and overcrowding at VAT refund counters.

A source familiar with the matter told the news outlet that the blockchain-based service would automatically approve refund claims if the purchase amount is “insignificant.” However, the source did not specify the amount.

Scripless Savings Bond Issuance and LC

Savanayana revealed that the Public Debt Management Office is planning to allow people to purchase savings bonds by downloading Bond Direct applications, with values starting from one baht. The first savings bond issuance available through the app is slated to be sold next May.

Blockchain technology would improve access to savings bond subscriptions and shorten the process involved in scripless bond issuance from the existing 15 days to 2 days.

The third area where blockchain technology will be implemented is LC issuance for state procurement. The objective is to streamline the process to inspect collateral put up by bidders and boost confidence about collateral security.

A number of Thai government departments have been looking to adopt blockchain technology in the past couple of months. This includes the Customs Department, the Revenue Department and the Comptroller-General's Department, among others.

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