HIP Coffee & Restaurant has been kitted out with banks of screens showing the latest crypto prices, which visitors can scrutinize as they sip on their cappuccinos.
Some might say that cryptocurrencies and coffee are a rather lethal combination — after all, scrutinizing price charts can be exhilarating enough without being buzzing on caffeine.
But this hasn't stopped a cafe in Thailand from becoming a sanctuary for crypto traders — and the venue has been kitted out with banks of screens that visitors can scrutinize as they sip on their cappuccinos.
One enthusiast told the Reuters news agency that HIP Coffee & Restaurant gives them a chance to meet people who share their interests — and exchange information and gossip in a fast-moving market.
And for the cafe's owners, it appears to have been an astute business decision. HIP first opened its doors in 2013 — and customer numbers are said to have doubled since it became a hub for digital asset investors in 2020.
Oakkharawat Yongsakuljinda, HIP's manager, told Reuters that visitors can also access free investment advice — and in the future, the cafe hopes to launch its very own coin. Another young trader said:
"Having so many screens helps a lot… We immediately know and get to analyze crashing factors and whether we should buy."
Thailand Clamps Down
Although HIP's arrival powerfully illustrates a new, vibrant and growing part of Thailand's economy, it's fair to say that regulators see things a little differently.
Concerned about the proliferation of cryptocurrencies, and their potential to harm everyday investors, Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission announced last week that it plans to "regulate the usage of digital assets as a means of payment for goods and services, to avert potential impacts on the country's financial stability and economic system."
Just some of the things that worry Thai regulators include "price volatility, cybertheft, personal data leakage and money laundering." And while they do want to "promote the development of digital asset businesses," officials want to place an emphasis on technology that doesn't come with risks. In other words, this suggests more of a focus on stablecoins and potentially central bank digital currencies.
A further tightening on the rules could come within weeks, as the SEC is considering whether to ban businesses from accepting crypto as a payment method — and stopping exchanges from offering the infrastructure that allows them to do so.