Ten cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea have filed applications to register with the nation's anti-money laundering body to continue their businesses under tougher regulations, according to the body Friday.
By Friday midnight, both foreign and local cryptocurrency exchanges targeting Korean investors are required to register with the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KFIU) and have real-name bank accounts. If they have no real-name bank accounts, cryptocurrency exchanges will be banned from withdrawing money for cryptocurrency trading.
The 10 exchanges include Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit and Flybit, KFIU officials said.
Also, the tougher rules require cryptocurrency exchanges to get a security certificate from the nation's internet security agency.
Financial regulators have said 28 out of 66 exchanges have obtained such a certificate.
Currently, only four major exchanges -- Bithumb, Upbit, Coinone and Korbit -- have real-name bank accounts issued by commercial banks.
Excluding the major four exchanges, other exchanges, which obtained the certificate, can continue their businesses after Saturday, but they will be unable to continue trading pairs using the Korean currency, because they have no real-name bank accounts.
Some medium-sized exchanges, including Flybit, Coredax and Foblgate, have suspended trading pairs using the Korean currency or announced the suspension of such trading.
The exact amount of cryptocurrencies traded on medium-sized or small exchanges is unknown, but market watchers said they account for about 5 to 7 percent of total cryptocurrency trading in South Korea.
For months, worries about regulatory crackdowns have hammered prices of smaller coins and some minor exchanges voluntarily discontinued operations or delisted smaller coins.
Korean investors had been heavily buying virtual currency, considering it a lucrative asset amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Especially, young people had been investing in cryptocurrencies, anticipating higher returns, with some saying they cannot buy homes solely with their incomes amid skyrocketing home prices. (Yonhap)