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S. Korea to draw up measures to clamp down on 'irrational' cryptocurrency investment

2018/01/16 09:30

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SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will come up with a set of measures to clamp down on the "irrational" investment craze for cryptocurrency here, the country's chief economic policymaker said Tuesday, with a potential shutdown of exchanges still on the table.

"The government stance is that it needs to regulate cryptocurrency investment as it is a largely speculative investment," Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in a radio program interview.

"The shutdown of virtual currency exchanges is still one of the options (that the government has)," Kim said, adding that more consultations among government agencies are needed.

The minister said the level of regulation at the moment is important but that there are no viable, concerted global standards.

"We are also tinkering with the option of levying taxes," he said.

South Korea's financial authorities have stepped up monitoring of cryptocurrency trading as they have warned that a bubble may be set to burst.

Currently, financial authorities ban banks from offering virtual accounts, which are needed to sell or buy cryptocurrencies, to individual customers, the latest measure to help prevent speculative investment for virtual coins.

Opening anonymous cryptocurrency accounts is also banned until banks install a system that ensures only real-name bank accounts and matching accounts at cryptocurrency exchanges for deposits and withdrawals.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum have rapidly gained popularity in recent years among South Korean investors hoping to make quick money.

South Korea is home to one of the world's biggest private bitcoin exchanges, with more than 2 million people estimated to own some of the best-known digital currency.

Despite a boom in cryptocurrency transactions, the exchanges go largely unregulated in South Korea as they are not recognized as financial products. There are also no rules for protecting virtual currency investors.

sam@yna.co.kr

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