The opposition leader of Thailand has promised to airdrop 10,000 baht ($300) in digital currency to anyone 16 or over should his Pheu Thai Party win the next election.
On Wednesday, real estate mogul turned candidate Srettha Thavisin announced the $300 handout policy in the heavily populated central Thai province Nonthaburi, according to a report by the Bangkok Post.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, Pheu Thai’s chief adviser on public participation and innovation, claimed the policy is part of a blockchain-based project designed to distribute Thai products abroad and help introduce digital currencies to Thailand.
The $300 airdrop will need to be spent within a 4-kilometer community radius in six months.
Shinawatra said the policy is designed to make Thailand an Asian fintech hub while spurring the development of its economy.
He explained that the funds would be invested in local areas for people to use within several months after receiving them, although critics slammed the initiative for lacking transparency and not clearly outlining the funding sources.
“Our country has been economically bruised over the last eight years, with less income and more expenses for the people,” Thavisin was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.
“The current government has been feeding IV drips with small money handouts. That’s not the right way and doesn’t stimulate the appropriate and right economic growth.”
Experts Show Concern About Sources of Funding
The policy has been criticized as a vote-winning gimmick, with some experts noting that there is no clear funding source to cover the initiative.
Waiwit Thongthongkham, a commercial bank employee, acknowledged that people like the prospect of free money from the authorities, but questioned where it would come from.
Pundits have also pointed out that Pheu Thai had previously criticized a policy by the Prayut government regarding a state welfare scheme for poor elderly people.
The Pheu Thai Party is running against the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, a former chief of the military junta that ruled the country after a coup in 2014.
Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, a minister in prime minister Chan-o-cha’s office and chief strategist in the United Thai Nation Party, said the budget would run to 500 billion baht ($15 billion) if distributed to all 50 million Thais.
He also said that creating a digital currency would be a significant challenge, with implications for the country’s entire financial system, and suspected that the policy was a marketing gimmick.
The move by Thailand comes as more and more Asian countries are striving to create a more friendly environment for crypto firms in a push to become global crypto hubs.
Just recently, it was revealed that the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the police have been working with lenders in the country to refine their approach to onboarding crypto service providers.
Similarly, Hong Kong has been aggressively pushing with its plans to become a global crypto hub.
As reported, Hong Kong officials plan to host a meeting between crypto companies and bankers in an attempt to ease financing for the sector, which suggests the city is determined to tackle various difficulties that crypto companies face when trying to set up corporate banking accounts.
Furthermore, a number of Chinese state-owned banks in Hong Kong, including the Bank of Communications, Bank of China, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, have either started offering banking services to local crypto firms or have made inquiries.