South Korea continues to be at the forefront of a number of positive stories around blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Its capital city Seoul was the venue of the first leg of this week’s hugely successful DasCoin Road To Dubai Tour, visiting key cities in Asia and concluding in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Meanwhile, news has broken that a group of wealthy individuals led by plastic surgeon and start-up champion Kim Byung-gun is boosting its holding on Bithumb, one of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
Kim’s BK Global Consortium signed a deal to buy 50% plus one share of BTC Holding Co., the largest investor in Bithumb’s operator, for about 400 billion won ($352 million), according to a spokesperson for the trading platform. BK Global Consortium was already the fifth-largest shareholder of BTC Holding.
Kim is increasing his stake after a wild ride for cryptocurrencies over the past two years. South Korea became one of the world’s most active markets for digital assets in 2017 as individual enthusiasts across the country got involved in their thousands.
And though the speculative frenzy has been checked to some extent this year, South Korea was the winning nation at the most recent NetLeaders Champions’ Trophy ceremony in Barcelona on June 30. That success, based on business done by leaders in each accounting period, finally ended the Champions’ Trophy stranglehold previously achieved by Poland.
Bithumb, ranked by CoinMarketCap.com as the world’s third-largest crypto exchange by reported trading value, posted 218.6 billion won ($193 million) of operating profit in the first half of the year.
The transaction by Kim’s BK Global Consortium will be completed in February 2019. Kim made his fortune investing in technology and biotech start-ups and last year formed a blockchain analysis and crowdfunding company in Singapore.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government is likely to announce its official position on Initial Coin Offerings in November.
South Korea first banned ICOs back in September 2017, saying that the practice of raising funds via the issuance of cryptocurrency tokens was “almost a gamble.” But according to Coin Telegraph, some companies are still successfully conducting ICOs through underhand means.
Korea’s government considered reallowing ICOs two months ago, amid plans to create its own “blockchain island” based in Jeju Island Resort. This came amid the potential creation of a legal framework for ICOs and possible protection measures for anyone pledging funds to them.
South Korea clearly believes in the value of new financial technologies. It has recently launched a six-month youth training programme that includes courses on blockchain and other FinTech applications. The announcement came after the news of the government’s plans to invest $4.4 billion in a number of areas of the domestic economy, including blockchain.