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South Korea is considering closing local cryptocurrency exchanges (again)

South Korea Bitcoin

Reuters reports that policymakers in South Korea’s parliament said that they’re considering shutting down domestic cryptocurrency exchanges, following the steep plunge in value of major virtual currencies over the past couple of days.

The news comes just days after we heard just the opposite. After South Korean law enforcement agencies raided the offices of local cryptocurrency exchanges to investigate alleged tax evasion last week, various government bodies including the official residence of the President announced that trading wouldn’t be banned in the country the next day.

Today, South Korea’s chief of the Financial Services Commission said:

(The government) is considering both shutting down all local virtual currency exchanges or just the ones who have been violating the law.

In addition, Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol said at a news conference that “cryptocurrency is not a legal currency and is not being used as such as of now.”

That doesn’t bode well for currencies like Bitcoin, which dipped below $10,000 in value for the first time since last month, bringing it down to less than half what it was worth in December 2017. According to Coindesk, tanking cryptocurrencies caused $300 billion (on paper) to be wiped from investors’ accounts in just the last 36 hours.

South Korea is the third largest market for Bitcoin trades, and is home to more than a dozen cryptocurrency exchanges. The country is said to have around two million users of cryptocurrency apps. As such, the effects of its government’s decisions concerning how it’ll regulate exchanges will have a major effect on the market across the globe.

All eyes will now be on South Korea as it mulls its position on the matter: more than 212,000 citizens have signed a petition to stop the government from clamping down on cryptocurrency trading, and any petition with more than 200,000 signatures prompts a response from officials within 30 days in the country.

China is also said to be planning a ban on access to foreign cryptocurrency exchanges from within its borders, according to a Bloomberg report from earlier this week; the country has already banned local exchanges.

HODL, I guess.

Published January 18, 2018 — 05:35 UTC