Korean Regulator Tells Crypto Exchanges to Revise User Agreements

A South Korean regulator has ordered 12 of the country's cryptocurrency exchanges to revise their user agreements.

In a statement published Wednesday, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday outlined the mandate, which was directed at popular exchanges like Bithumb, Korbit and Coinone, among others.

According to a report from the South Korean news agency Yonhap, officials faulted the exchanges for failing to provide the necessary protections for users in the so-called adhesion contracts, also known as boilerplate contracts.

The news service said that the FTC cited provisions in the agreements which it argued place undue financial burdens on users in the event that they end their memberships. The Korean FTC did not immediately respond to CoinDesk's request for comment.

The FTC's move represents the latest measure taken by the Korean government to police the cryptocurrency exchange ecosystem. Last month, reports indicated that regulators in the country are investigating the anti-money laundering controls of banks that do business with exchanges. That move came on the heels of public reports of an investigation into possible tax evasion.

Regulatory actions aside, exchange representatives have struck a largely upbeat tone about the sector's prospects. At an event in Seoul this week, members of the exchange ecosystem pledged to do a better job of self-regulating in order to create what a panel member called a «healthy market.»

And in spite of any tightening regulation for exchanges, South Korea continues to serve as a major market for the tech, both on the cryptocurrency and blockchain fronts. CoinDesk reported this week that the country's capital, Seoul, is working on its own cryptocurrency, and a recent survey indicated that younger Koreans have a greater interest in crypto investing than older demographics.

Korea's Crypto Exchanges Pledge Market Cleanup

«It was a fantastic year in 2017.»

As stated by Junhaeng Lee, co-founder and CEO of Seoul-based crypto platform Gopax, that's one simple but accurate summary of the last year for cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea. Indeed, since earlier last year, crypto trading volume in the country has surged to a point where exchanges from South Korea have topped their global peers in terms of 24-hour trading volume.

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Messaging Giant Line to Launch South Korean Blockchain Subsidiary

Japan-based social messaging platform Line is launching a blockchain subsidiary, just months after it announced its Line Pay service would offer cryptocurrencies, the company announced Monday.

Called Unblock, the subsidiary company will be based in South Korea and will research blockchain technology and its potential applications. The move is part of an effort to integrate those applications into its messaging platform to «add new value through technological innovation by combining blockchain technology with various services in LINE,» according to an announcement on its website.

ZDNet also reports that the platform will look to connect cryptocurrency markets between South Korea, Japan and the broader Southeast Asian market.

Line Plus, the firm's mobile platform subsidiary, will eventually launch a «token economy,» according to the announcement.

The news comes just over two months after the app provider first announced the Line Financial Corporation -a new company set up to act as a cryptocurrency trading, insurance and loan platform, as previously reported. Line Financial Corp., which is based in Japan, has also been tasked with researching blockchain technologies.

Line's cryptocurrency services will be offered through the Line Pay mobile app.

Line isn't the only messaging company making moves to better understand blockchain and cryptocurrency and how those technologies might be integrated into their services. Korean messaging platform Kakao launched a similar subsidiary endeavour in early March to develop new applications for the tech, though it recently denied rumors that it might offer its own crypto token.

Most notably perhaps, however, is Telegram's record-setting $1.7 billion ICO. The Russia-based messaging platform aims to launch an entire blockchain ecosystem called Telegram Open Network (TON), though details remain sparse on the project.

Survey: Younger Koreans More Likely to Invest in Crypto

Nearly a quarter of South Koreans in their twenties want to invest in cryptocurrencies, according to a new poll conducted by Bank of Korea.

Yonhap News reported Tuesday that the bank's survey examined cryptocurrency awareness among 2,511 Korean residents, with the age of the respondents ranging from people in their twenties to their seventies.

Notably, the survey found that roughly 30% of people in their twenties and 40% of those in their thirties are familiar with cryptocurrencies, while only 21.6% of the overall group was aware of the tech.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the numbers were not as high among the older generations: only the older generations, 5.7% of people in their sixties and 2.2% of people in their seventies had any knowledge of cryptocurrencies.

Younger survey participants also displayed a greater appetite for investing in cryptocurrencies. Some 24.2% of those in their twenties said they were «eager to invest in cryptocurrencies,» according to Yonhap, compared to 20.1% for those in the thirties age-group.

Yonhap noted that an estimated 2 million people currently own cryptocurrencies in South Korea, or about 4% of the country's roughly 52 million residents, which is perhaps reflective of the fast-growing market for trading there.

And while Korean officials have reportedly raided three different exchanges as part of a larger embezzlement probe — signaling that regulators have no plans to stop policing the space — other firms are entering the market to capitalize on the interest.

The company behind Kakao Talk, the country's most popular messaging app, confirmed this week that it is launching a blockchain-focused subsidiary. At the same, it rejected rumors that it is preparing to launch a cryptocurrency and associated token sale.