Business 7 May 2018

Erik Gibbs

South Korea’s financial regulator highlights cryptocurrency benefits

South Korea’s recently appointed head of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), Yoon Suk-heun, seems to be a cryptocurrency enthusiast. He recently reported in a press conference that he sees “some positive aspects” to cryptocurrency and that he wants to work with other regulatory bodies in the country to create solid cryptocurrency regulations. This is good news for the country’s cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investors.

Yoon, who officially takes over FSS on May 8, echoed what many others have stated—better cryptocurrency regulation would be beneficial to the industry and would create a stronger, more secure financial system that results in wider accessibility to cryptocurrencies.

Yoon’s appointment comes at the perfect time, following on the heels of an emotional see-saw regarding cryptocurrencies in South Korea. Anonymous domestic trading was banned in December, leading many to assume that a complete cryptocurrency ban was forthcoming. The rumor was quashed in January, but there has still been some in-fighting between different branches in the government over whether or not cryptocurrencies should be legitimized. So far, the proponents are winning.

In his statement, Yoon didn’t go into detail about how he would address domestic cryptocurrency exchanges, but admitted that there are “a lot of issues that need to be addressed and reviewed. We can figure them out but gradually.” Hopefully, his enthusiasm and open-mindedness is shared by fellow government members.

Cryptocurrency regulations are coming—there’s no escaping the fact. Some exchanges, like South Korea’s Bithumb, welcome regulations within moderation. The exchange’s vice president, Lee Keong-ah, said in an interview with The Korean Times, “…you can’t entirely kill the markets by simply imposing regulations. What the new FSS chief should think about is how the regulators should provide remedies to help crypto trading and blockchain technology get better.”

South Korea has been proactively working on managing the cryptocurrency space in the country for the past couple of months. In March, a ban was implemented that prohibits government officials from investing, trading or holding cryptocurrencies. In order to protect consumers, lawmakers introduced a bill that seeks to legalize initial coin offerings (ICOs), but under guidance of the Ministry of Science and the Financial Services Commission, which maintains oversight of the FSS.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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