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South Korea’s New Regulatory Era: Crypto Market Impact

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South Korea’s New Regulatory Era: Crypto Market Impact

By Lockridge Okoth


South Korea’s New Regulatory Era: Crypto Market Impact

Updated by Daria Krasnova

In Brief

  • South Korea’s Virtual Asset User Protection Act grace period ends, introducing major crypto regulations.
  • New regulations include cold storage of 80% of deposits and 24-hour exchange surveillance.
  • Exchanges ramp up activities, reevaluating tokens and enhancing security ahead of the July 19 deadline.
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South Korea’s New Regulatory Era: Crypto Market Impact

South Korea will see its one-year grace period for the Virtual Asset User Protection Act end this month. With the end of this window period, two important developments are set to change crypto regulations as the country’s citizenry knows it.

As the country’s regulatory climate toughens this month, crypto market recovery could slack amid reduced trading volumes.

Crypto Regulation Shake-Up: New Laws in South Korea

South Korea’s lawmakers passed the Virtual Asset User Protection Act in July 2023, allowing a one-year grace period before implementation. Local media reported that the legislation would be divided into two parts, with the first due on July 19. The second part remains a work in progress.

Under this legislation, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), South Korea’s regulatory body, and the Bank of Korea would jointly oversee crypto operators and asset custodians in the country. According to an official statement from the FSC, the objective is to prevent illicit market activity.

Crypto exchanges would also have to safeguard at least 80% of deposits in cold storage and enroll in insurance programs. These measures will guarantee the safety of user funds, with a capacity for compensation in case of security breaches.

As the one-year window expires this month, South Korea is meeting the expiry of this grace period with new technology. In a Thursday announcement, South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said it would launch a 24-hour surveillance system for local exchanges on July 19. The deployment will happen as the Virtual Asset User Protection Act is enacted.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has developed a standardized reporting format by benchmarking the Korea Exchange. This system analyzes data submissions from local exchanges, identifying and removing irregularities from transaction reports.

“We benchmarked KRX’s (Korea Exchange) criteria in extracting abnormal transactions and prepared models and metric indicators through several simulations, which we expect will filter out abnormal transactions meticulously,” read an excerpt in a press release shared on Thursday.

Notably, the FSS employs the help of exchanges, who will monitor suspicious transactions and uncover illegalities. There is also a hotline between local exchanges and the FSS to report violations.

Implicantions for Crypto as Exchanges Ramp Up

Meanwhile, exchanges ramp up their activities to beat the July 19 window. Bithumb, the second largest exchange in South Korea, launched the ICP Korean Won trading market on June 12. Others are reevaluating over 1,000 previously listed tokens, with the Digital Asset eXchange Alliance (DAXA) informing local users of plans to join 20 other local exchanges in reviewing 1,333 tokens.

The DAXA is an alliance that represents five major Korean crypto exchanges. This will help get ahead of possible delisting once the Virtual Asset User Protection Act’s axe falls. 

These regulatory adjustments sprouted from the TerraUSD and Luna saga in 2022, revolving around South Korean national Do Kwon.

As crypto markets continue to bleed, some say the toughening of regulations in South Korea could delay price recovery. The speculation sprouts from the Korean won position against the US dollar (USD) as the most commonly used currency for crypto trading.

While this competition solidifies South Korea’s position in the global crypto arena, it qualifies as a factor in the much-awaited market recovery as the country’s regulatory climate heats up. As traders and exchanges navigate this development, trading volumes are expected to drop, especially among major trading platforms, making the market more susceptible to sharp price movements and heightened volatility.

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