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Banks collected 2.2 bln won in virtual currency trading commission last year: FSS

All Headlines 10:25 January 18, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) -- Major South Korean banks earned 2.2 billion won (US$2 million) last year in commission for providing virtual accounts to cryptocurrency investors, government data showed Thursday.

The amount compares with just 61 million won the six banks made in commission from cryptocurrency traders in 2016, according to statistics from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

Industrial Bank of Korea took in the most, with 675 million won, followed by NongHyup Bank at 654 million won. Shinhan Bank reported 621 million won, followed by Kookmin Bank with 151 million won, Korea Development Bank with 61 million won and Woori Bank with 59 million won.

The total balance of virtual currency held in accounts at the six banks rose to 2.06 trillion won last year from 32.2 billion won the previous year.

The government has been striving to rein in the virtual currency frenzy in Asia's fourth-largest economy while contemplating a bill to ban cryptocurrency exchanges.

Amid concerns over a bubble, the government last month banned the opening of new virtual accounts for cryptocurrency investors and required virtual currency traders to change their virtual accounts to real-name ones.

Bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies have rapidly gained popularity among South Korean investors recently as a means of making quick money.

South Korea is home to one of the world's biggest private bitcoin exchanges, with more than 2 million people estimated to own some of the best-known digital currency.

Despite a boom in cryptocurrency transactions, the exchanges go largely unregulated by authorities, as they are not recognized as financial products, and South Korea has no rules for protecting virtual currency investors.

Banks collected 2.2 bln won in virtual currency trading commission last year: FSS - 1


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