Four of five top South Korean banks are looking to offer cryptocurrency-related services in the country. The move was announced by the Woori and Shinhan banks that control four of the top banks operating in the country. This is a welcoming development for the cryptocurrency industry that is already undergoing a kind of resurgence in recent months after the May 12 halving earlier this year.
The South Korean private sector has one of the most progressive policies when it comes to cryptocurrencies despite being hit by several cyber attacks from North Korean hackers who have hacked several of its top cryptocurrency exchanges including the famous Bithumb exchange in recent years, several of these multiple times. Now with new crypto legislation Special Financial Transactions Information Act on the cards, the both the Woori and the Shinhan banks are looking to offer integrated crypto banking services to the general public.
Previous Services being Offered
Previously, the Shinhan bank was considered the most progressive bank in the country when it came to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and once even tried to offer crypto storage services but the then government of the country stopped it from happening citing regulatory clarity. The other two banks NH Nonghyup Bank and Kookmin Bank are also interested in crypto custodial services and are looking to launch options for instituionalized investments as well.
Caught in a Regulation War against US
The South Korean government which was initially anti-cryptocurrency is now successfully being lobbied to allow the sector to progress if it doesn’t want to lag behind the United States and other powers. Blockchain Research Center at Dongguk University Park Sung-joon believes that American banks and financial institutions are far ahead of the pack and the country needs to allow more blockchain/crypto businesses to function.
Other countries are moving very quickly in this regard. But there is still no legal system in place in South Korea, so progress is slower than expected.”
South Korean Affection for Blockchain Technology
Despite the governmental uncertainty towards the distributed technology sector in recent times as well as various morale-lowering cyber attacks, the South Korean public is very interested in cryptocurrencies overall. Over 1 million drivers readily signed up for a blockchain-based driver licensing service in just 3 months showing that it is very receptive to new ideas and developments. KEB Hana Bank is also working on a DLT-based tolling system on the highways in the country thus allowing further opportunities for the Korean people.
However, the future is uncertain and may depend on various factors within and without. Cryptocurrencies are always tricky for the governments to handle and none has perfected the process right now to balance between meaningful regulation and open mindedness.
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