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Good News and Bad for Blockchain and Crypto in South Korea

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

There were mixed fortunes for cryptocurrency and blockchain enterprises in South Korea yesterday – with Kakao’s Ground X blockchain arm winning a second major banking partner, while government authorities yet again delayed making a key cryptocurrency ruling.

Source: iStock/NeoPhoto

Woori, a financial firm that comprises Woori Bank – one of the country’s largest commercial banks – has signed a business agreement with Ground X, just over a week after the latter sealed a deal with Woori rival Shinhan.

The new deal with Woori, per a report from Gukje News, will see the bank and Ground X co-develop “blockchain-based financial services.” The bank says it is particularly keen to use blockchain technology to power its Woori Card credit card operations.

Ground X is the operator of the Klayn blockchain platform, which has already amassed a number of high-profile partners, including business giants LG and Samsung – and banking partners such as Union Bank of the Philippines (also known as UnionBank).

As previously reported, Woori is already blockchain-keen, and is set to launch a blockchain-powered service in October this year, whereby its customers will be able to exchange foreign and domestic currency or make cash withdrawals of up to USD 850 at airport drive-through restaurants, fast food outlets, stores and parking lots.

That Woori project was green-lighted by a regulatory sandbox program operated by the regulatory Financial Services Commission (FSC). But another company hoping to win approval from the government sandbox has been left to flounder – due to its more obvious connection with cryptocurrencies.

News1 reports that the Ministry of Science and ICT has yet again delayed its verdict on an application lodged in January by overseas remittance provider Moin.

Moin makes use of the Stellar blockchain protocol and cryptocurrencies including like XRP as part of its business model. But, as previously reported, the fact that cryptocurrencies are involved has lead to an eight-month impasse between the FSC, the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance – with the Science Ministry caught in the middle.

News1 states that a Science Ministry spokesperson yesterday confirmed that there was still no progress on the landmark Moin case – despite previous promises that no company would have to wait more than eight weeks to hear whether their sandbox application was successful or not.

The media outlet quotes an exasperated industry insider as stating, “If a company wants to win approval from South Korean financial authorities, it would be better off totally avoiding all mention of words like ‘blockchain.’”