China’s OKCoin to Launch Crypto Exchange in South Korea

OKCoin, a Beijing-based crypto exchange provider, plans to launch an operation in South Korea although the country’s government is weighing a ban on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Chinese crypto exchange provider OKCoin is gearing for the launch of a crypto trading service in South Korea as early as February, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports. The move is a plucky one given that Seoul is seriously thinking about shutting down crypto exchanges within the country’s borders. However, the Beijing-based company is acting in accordance with a plan drafted last summer, when South Korea showed no signs that it could apply such drastic measures. 

OKCoin has already created a website for the South Korean market and has accepted over 150,000 pre-order registrations since last Friday. If everything goes smoothly, traders will be able to buy and sell about 60 cryptocoins and digital assets, including Bitcoin. 

Previously, OKCoin operated one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in China, but the government banned local crypto exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs) in an attempt to control the money flow. 

Now there are serious risks that South Korea might do the same. The country has become one of the biggest players in the crypto market, holding a 25% share of global Bitcoin trading as of December 2017. However, some officials are worried that the Bitcoin craze has gone too far and even encourages criminal activities. 

Last week, finance minister Kim Dong-yeon said that banning crypto trading was “a live option.” A few days earlier, South Korean financial regulators inspected several companies that provide crypto-trading solutions. The situation plunged the crypto market into a bearish mood. 

Elsewhere, Seoul-based crypto exchange Youbit filed for bankruptcy in December after a second cyber attack stole 17% of user funds. Preliminary results of an investigation conducted by South Korean authorities found that North Korea might be behind the attack.

Han Seung-joon, marketing and public relations director for OKCoin Korea, noted that the company was not communicating with South Korean authorities about the launch. OKCoin has contacts with the Korea Blockchain Association.

“We are trying to abide by the law as much as possible. As a new player in this market, we thought that it would be too much of a risk to voice out our opinions [to the government],” he said. 

But he added that the company was preparing for the worst-case scenario. 

Glosfer, a Seoul-based blockchain company, postponed the planned January launch of a crypto exchange because of the current situation. Glosfer sales and marketing director Kim Bo-gyu said: 

“We’re always making sure that we abide by the government’s policies. But things are uncertain at the moment.”