Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges by trading volume, could be preparing to expand into South Korea. The media outlet Business Korea reported the move, saying that Binance has already begun to hire executives in the country in preparation of the expansion.
The push into South Korea coincides with an increased amount of legislative attention to the crypto space in the country. There have been several bills drafted to offer regulations on the industry while also lobbying for the legalization of initial coin offerings (ICOs). Additionally, the country’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) recently introduced a policy that requires banks to monitor all accounts owned by exchanges.
ICOs were banned in South Korea in September 2017. The decision resulted in a bill being introduced by Hong Eui-rak of the ruling Democratic Party to try and force a reversal. At the time, Hong said, “The bill is aimed at legalizing ICOs under the government’s supervision … The primary goal (of the legislation is helping remove uncertainties facing blockchain-related businesses.” The bill was successful in gathering support and the country’s National Assembly introduced its own recommendation to allow ICOs this past May.
Changpeng Zhao, the exchange’s CEO, has been in South Korea and was the keynote speaker at the Blockchain Partners Summit in Seoul. He stressed the importance of the cryptocurrency market in the country, one of the largest trading markets in the world.
Last May, Yoon Suk-heun was appointed to be the head of the country’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). He has been more open to the topic of crypto, and said after his appointment, “Regarding cryptocurrencies, there are some positive aspects…The FSS will collaborate with the FSC when an inspection on policies and financial institutions has different configurations associated with different scopes. FSC inspects policies, while the FSS examines and supervises financial institutions but with the oversight of the FSC.”
Given the increased acceptance of cryptocurrency on a legislative level in the country, Binance sees it as a prime market. It had already begun to make preparations for an entrance into the market in 2017 when it added Korean language support to its portal. However, the company indicated that it was only looking to be prepared and not officially ready to launch operations in the country. In a statement, Binance said, “Currently we have no office in Korea and whether Binance will enter Korea in the future depends on progress in Korean policy.”
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