Bitcoin Is a Commodity Not a Currency, Says South Korean Central Bank Chief

The head of South Korea's central bank has ruled out classifying bitcoin as a currency, according to a new report.

Oct 25, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:04 a.m. UTC

The head of South Korea's central bank has ruled out classifying bitcoin as a currency, arguing that cryptocurrencies are a form of commodity instead.

According to Seoul-Yonhap News, Bank of Korea governor Lee Ju-yeol rejected the idea when asked on Monday whether it's possible to accept cryptocurrencies as legal fiat. The declaration is the latest official assessment on the tech following a ban on initial coin offerings issued in September.

"Regulation (for virtual currencies) is appropriate because it is regarded as a commodity, not at the level of legal currency," Lee said during an audit of the government by the National Assembly, the country's legislative body.

"It is not a situation for the Bank of Korea to take such an action at the present," he added.

That Lee would throw his weight behind legislative solutions to regulating the space is notable, given that work in this area has already advanced in some form.

Back in August, some lawmakers argued for tightened regulations to apply to cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea in light of the spiking trading volume since earlier this year. Last month, the country's financial regulator also took a notable move in cracking down on activities around the ICO funding model.

During the legislative session, Lee also acknowledged that the central bank could do more on research around both cryptocurrencies as well as blockchain more generally.

"We also refer to a lot of virtual currency research conducted in countries like Sweden. The Bank of Korea will also put more emphasis on virtual currency research," he was quoted as saying.

Editor's Note: Some of the statements in this report have been translated from Korean.

Image via Shutterstock

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