South Korea does not intend to ban cryptocurrency trading, the country's finance minister has said.
In response to a question from a lawmaker on the government's plans for regulation of the industry, Kim Dong-yeon said, "there is no intention to ban or suppress cryptocurrency [market]," as reported by Reuters today.
Rather than follow China's lead and take the drastic step of closing down domestic exchanges, the minister added:
"Regulating exchanges is [the government]'s immediate task."
Kim's comments come after the country has moved to increase scrutiny of cryptocurrency trading, to calm what it considers an overheated market.
Yesterday saw the introduction of new rules preventing the use of anonymous virtual accounts for trading, meaning individuals must use real names on bank and exchange accounts. Further, authorities said people not complying with the change face penalties.
Amid the government's moves to quell the market, statements from some officials had indicated that the country might be planning to ban cryptocurrency exchanges altogether – news that was linked to a sudden drop in the prices of many cryptocurrencies. South Korea is one the the world's biggest markets for trading bitcoin and other digital currencies.
However, officials soon started to move to calm the markets, and South Korea's presidential office said on Jan. 11 that a plan to ban trading cryptocurrencies "is one of the measures prepared by the Ministry of Justice, but it's not a measure that has been finalized."
Bitcoin and Korean won image via Shutterstock