The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) currently has two different bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposals on the table, and its decision could influence the cryptocurrency market in South Korea.
According to the Korean Herald, South Korean institutions have been “keeping a tight leash on the whole cryptocurrency industry,” while observing the US’ moves on them. Speaking to the news outlet an official with the country’s main exchange, Korea Exchange, stated:
There are strong voices supporting the launch of bitcoin ETFs within the market -- which is why we are observing the progress and response of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision on bitcoin ETFs.
The official, who chose to remain anonymous, added that providing a “solid index required for the launch of such ETFs and of its role when it is commercialized and integrated into the market is being discussed expansively at the KRX because it would eventually concern investor protection issues.”
The clock started ticking for the SEC to review a bitcoin ETF application filed by Bitwise Asset Management with NYSE Arca earlier this month, meaning an initial decision is expected by April 5. Some industry observers believe a bitcoin ETF will bring in additional liquidity to the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and attract institutional investors.
Per the Korea Herald, however, local investment banks and asset management firms have been focusing on blockchain ETFs. Speaking to the news outlet a spokesperson for Mirae Asset Global Investments noted the firm manages an overseas blockchain ETF, but is “yet to engage in any bitcoin transactions.”
Lee Kyung-ho, a professor at Korea University’s Graduate school of Information Security, added:
With the government expanding its investment in research and development of blockchain technology, the projects are expected to minimize or eliminate the risk of integrating ETF transactions in the cryptocurrency market.
He added that cryptocurrency exchanges implement know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) checks may also help a bitcoin ETF be launched, as it’ll “boost transparency in transactions.”
South Korea is a country that has banned initial coin offerings (ICOs), but allowed crypto exchanges to remain open. The government has extended tax breaks for the blockchain industry this year to spur innovation.