Bitkub Becomes Unicorn After Selling Majority Stake to SCB

Bitkub Online Co has sold a majority stake to Thailand’s largest bank by market value, becoming the country’s latest startup to be valued at over $1 billion.

On Tuesday night, Siam Commercial Bank Plc announced that it would invest 17.85 billion baht to acquire 51% of Bitkub.

The move has valued Bitkub, Thailand’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, at around 35 billion baht.

Also, its coin tripled in price, rising 200% to a record $2.85 after the deal was announced Tuesday night, Asia time. According to the cryptocurrency pricing website CoinGecko, Bitkub coin’s price was 0.98 earlier that day.

Sim Commercial took the first step to expand into digital assets despite lawmakers and regulators warning investors about cryptocurrency’s potential risks. After the company invested in the country’s largest exchange operator, its shares rose 3.5% to a six-week high.

Experts say that demand for risky assets, including cryptocurrencies and equity products, has exploded in the region as young investors seek better-yielding savings amid low interest rates and the economic slowdown.

Jirayut Srupsrisopa, chief executive officer and a founder of Bitkub’s operator Bitkub Capital Group Holdings Co, said in a statement that the exchange had reached a milestone by becoming “an important part of Thailand’s digital economic infrastructure.”

“Bitkub is no longer just a startup and is now becoming a necessary part of the infrastructure critical for Thailand’s financial industry,” the 31-year-old chief executive said. “SCBS will hold 51 per cent of Bitkub Online, a company with total value of 35 billion baht and is one of Thailand’s “Unicorn” startups.”

Arthid Nanthawithaya, the bank’s chief executive officer, said the investment in Bitkub would help the SCB Group create “new long-term growth value in the midst of a new financial world.”

Moreover, the deal will also help the bank meet new, changing consumer needs and enter a new competitive arena that will emerge “very quickly” in three to five years.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand, locally licensed crypto exchanges’ turnover peaked at 217 billion in May this year, rising from 18 billion baht in November 2020. It has fallen since but averaged about 100 billion baht per month from August to October.

Bitkub, founded in 2018, has been ranked 79th among over 300 exchanges worldwide by CoinMarketCap after a 24-hour turnover of $282 million.