AS THAILAND is surrounded by neighbouring countries that only circulate banknotes, the Royal Thai Mint is eyeing Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) for its regional expansion plan.
Deputy director-general of the Treasury Department Werawut Sripaoraya said that officials would tour Laos and Cambodia this year to propose the new coin designs and specifications to the relevant authorities. The treasury had made similar trips to encourage the CLMV countries to reissue coins last year, Werawut added.
"These four countries used to circulate coins; we would like to invite them to visit our mint in Thailand and convince them to reissue coins," said Werawut. Compared to banknotes, coins are more durable with a lifetime of 15 to 20 years while banknotes usually last only one to two years. "We will mint the coins if the CLMV countries decide to reissue coins for their currencies. These countries place a high level of trust in Thailand and the logistics cost to transport the coins there won't be that high," said Werawut.
The treasury issues 1.3 billion pieces of replacement coins in various denominations each year for domestic consumption. Besides circulative coins, 15 per cent of the production of the mint consists of commemorative coins and medals. Werawut declined to reveal the mint's revenue. The falling raw material prices contributed to lower production cost, he added. The treasury issues around five series of commemorative coins each year and the latest release featuring the Thai elephant would be marketed internationally for the first time, said Werawut.
"We have signed several agreements with dealers from US, Europe, Korea and Japan on the distribution of the new series during the World Money Fair in Berlin recently. A number of coin collectors came to our booth and expressed interest in Thai releases, coins with images of the king are very popular among the collectors," said Werawut. He noted that coin collecting and investment are still in infancy and a hobby for a niche group in Thailand. "Asians love gold and most of the collectors favour gold or silver coins. It is less common for sale transactions of coins to be made online, as most collectors still like to visit a physical showroom and they love the feel of the coins in their hands," said Werawut.
The treasury will be hosting the Mint Director Conference from May 1-8 in Bangkok and Phuket with participants from 47 countries. Werawut said the future of coins would be a theme at this biennial event. "Cashless payment system remains a challenge faced by the minting industry but coins will still have a place in Thai society in the near future," he said.