South Korean banks Woori and Shinhan have just announced their intention to introduce „crypto currency services“. This means that four of the country’s top five banks, with a combined value of over USD 1.2 trillion in assets, are now prepared to introduce crypto-currency services.
Each of the banks aims to maintain and manage crypto-currencies for clients. Both Shinhan and Woori announced their plans in direct response to the amended Special Financial Transactions Reporting Act that will change the legislation on crypto assets, which will take effect next year.
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Shinhan Bank previously announced plans for the storage of cryptomoney in 2017, but these plans were thwarted by the government in January 2018.
NH Nonghyup Bank and Kookmin Bank have already coordinated blockchain teams to implement cryptomoney storage features; Nonghyup is the most advanced and expects to launch services for „institutional investors“ in the coming months.
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Too little, too late?
Blockchain experts in the country have expressed concern that these steps are „too little, too late,“ citing U.S. institutions that are well ahead of South Korea’s banking sector. The head of the Corona Millionaire Research Center at Dongguk University Park, Sung-joon, said he was „concerned“ that the nation’s financial „competitiveness“ could be in jeopardy as a result:
„Other countries are moving very quickly in this direction. But there is still no legal system in South Korea, so progress is slower than expected.
Without „institutional support,“ he suggested that this push for cryptomoney custody might not lead to widespread integration.
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Korea loves crypto coins
Although the financial sector has been criticized for its slow assimilation of blockchain technology, other industries have been quicker to integrate it into their solutions. More than one million people have adopted a new digital driver’s license application based on blockchain after only 3 months. One of the largest banks in South Korea, KEB Hana Bank, has partnered with the Korea Expressway Corporation to implement a blockchain-based toll system for the country’s highways.
And this week, news emerged that Seongnam’s payment program will be expanded by issuing new digital gift certificates, and Busan T-shirts will be able to pay for services with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH).