800+ South Korean Companies Dealing in Crypto Despite ‘Dead’ Market

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Over 800 South Korean companies are doing business in cryptocurrencies, per figures compiled by the regulatory Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

South Gate of Seoul. Source: iStock/uschools

Aju News reports that a parliamentary committee asked the FSS to reveal how many companies in the country had corporate cryptocurrency exchange-linked accounts with domestic banks.

The FSS surveyed 19 commercial banks in South Korea and discovered that there were now over 800 corporate cryptocurrency accounts in operation. This marks a huge increase from the last time the FSS surveyed banks – back in 2015, when there were only 156.

Opposition MPs have called on the government to respond.

Bareunmirae Party MP Yoo Eui-dong said,

“Banks are managing cryptocurrency transactions despite the fact that the government does not officially recognize cryptocurrencies as having value. The government has been flip-flopping on its cryptocurrency policy for two years – it’s high time it made up its mind about where it stands on cryptocurrencies.”

The data shows that the overwhelming majority of corporate cryptocurrency exchange account customers are banking with Shinhan Bank, which has 257 business clients.

In second place was IBK Bank with 136, followed by Kookmin Bank with 120, Woori Bank with 115 and KEB Hana Bank with 75. All of these banks have launched crypto and/or blockchain business arms in recent years. At one point Shinhan was hoping to introduce a cryptocurrency custody service – a plan it has since shelved due to the Moon Jae-in government’s crypto-crackdown of 2017-2018.

Pundits in the East Asia region have claimed that business in South Korea is “dead,” with high saturation and “low volatility.” Dovey Wan, a founding partner of California-based investment company Primitive Ventures, pointed out that while market leader Bithumb has been keeping a relatively low profile in its home country, it is pushing ahead with overseas expansion.

Other Twitter users agreed that South Korean “speculators have their hands in their pockets.”

KRW/BTC daily average flow, in millions USD:

Source: Coinlib.io, Cryptonews.com

Government regulation may well be playing a part in the above, however, with a number of restrictive measures placed on cryptocurrency exchanges in recent years – effectively forcing exchanges to look overseas.

Not everyone in South Korea is likely to agree with Wan’s sentiments, however.

While it is certainly true that South Korean speculators with little or no cryptocurrency knowledge have exited the market since the bear market of 2018, big businesses in the country have been targeting crypto and blockchain expansion in 2019 and beyond.

Several major cryptocurrency and business players have told Cryptonews.com in recent months that they expect the government to introduce pro-crypto business policies, or at least soften its stance within the next few years.

Most large companies in the nation have been building up their blockchain infrastructure in anticipation, while many media experts claimed that while the likes of Telegram and Facebook have found themselves mired down in regulatory red tape in their home countries, South Korean internet giants like Naver (via its Japan-based Line affiliate) and Kakao have been forging away with mainnets and their own fast-growing cryptocurrency projects.