South Korea: Cryptocurrency traders banned from using anonymous bank accounts
South Korea banned the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading beginning in late January 2018, regulators said in a widely telegraphed move designed to stop virtual coins from being used for money laundering and other crimes.
The measure comes on top of stepped-up efforts by Seoul to temper South Koreans’ obsession with cryptocurrencies. Everyone from housewives to college students and office workers have rushed to trade the market despite warnings from global policymakers about investing in an asset that lacks broad regulatory oversight.
Policymakers around the world are calling for tougher, coordinated regulation of cryptocurrency trading. South Korea’s chief financial regulator said in January 2018 the government may consider shutting down domestic virtual currency exchanges.
South Korea’s presidential office has clarified that an outright ban on trading on the virtual currency exchanges is only one of the steps being considered and not a measure that has been finalized.
“The government is still discussing whether an outright ban is needed or not, internally,” said a government official who declined to be named.
Government statements in January 2018 have underscored differences between the Justice Ministry, which has pushed for a more hard-line approach, and regulators who have shown a reluctance to enforce an outright ban.
As of January 30, 2018, cryptocurrency traders in South Korea were not allowed to make deposits into their virtual currency exchange wallets unless the names on their bank accounts match the account names in cryptocurrency exchanges, Kim Yong-beom, vice chairman of the Financial Services Commission, told a news conference in Seoul.
“Everyone knew this was coming, as the government already said they will enforce the real-name system before,” said a local bitcoin investor who only agreed to be identified by his family name Ahn. “Rather, I can see this as a chance to go in, not out. I don’t see any reason to take my money out.” Reuters