A prominent lawmaker in South Korea has called for greater regulation of cryptocurrencies for consumers, following a hearing held in the country’s legislature today.

The calls came as part of a wider discussion on laws relating to the legal treatment of cryptocurrencies in the country, in measures that are being viewed as potentially influential in shaping similar policy around the world.

Presiding over the session, Korean politician Park Yong-jin called for consumer regulations to be added to the current drafts under debate, in a bid to shore up the environment for consumers dealing in currencies like bitcoin and ether.

Focusing on trader protection, he was keen to stress the difficulties created by the current position, with cryptocurrencies remaining largely unregulated in the country to date.

“Without a legal framework, we can neither regulate, nurture, nor support the cryptocurrency-related industries. Also, the legal vacuum prevents those who committed virtual currency-related crimes from being punished.”

The forum was comprised of lawmakers, in addition to academics, lawyers, and other stakeholders – including notably a victim of a cryptocurrency scam.

The call for greater protection for consumers comes at a time when legislatures across the world are turning their focus to cryptocurrencies, both in giving currencies legal effect as payment methods and in introducing more solid legal frameworks for startups and associated industries.

Jung Sun-seop from Seoul National University argued that by legalising cryptocurrencies as a payment method, many of the existing challenges could start to be addressed.

Meanwhile, representations were made from Chae Won-hee on behalf of victims of cryptocurrency scams, who was keen to highlight the impact of the current legal vacuum for victims, as well as the opportunities it can present for scammers.

The public hearing held today comes just two weeks after a change to local laws was proposed, reflecting the speed and urgency with which the Korean authorities are looking to address these problems.

As one of the leading players in the emerging cryptocurrency and blockchain spaces, South Korea is attempting to gain further advantage in shaping its legal framework as quickly as possible, with countries like Russia, Dubai, Singapore and some US states already advancing their own plans for introducing blockchain regulation.