The popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is growing in South Korea, and now advocacy groups are pressing Seoul to enact new legislation to make the currency easier and safer for Koreans to own. According to a report from Bitcoin.com, The Korean Bar Association (KBA), which is comprised of all of South Korea’s lawyers, publicly announced its support for more cryptocurrency related laws regulating individual transactions and exchanges.
“We urge the government to break away from negative perceptions and hesitation, and draw up bills to help develop the blockchain industry and prevent side effects involving cryptocurrencies,” said Kim Hyun, the KBA’s president. “The Korean Bar Association specifically proposed the direction of regulating cryptocurrency trading sites, ICOs, domestic and foreign cryptocurrency transactions, and cryptocurrency fund products.”
The group is hoping to prevent cryptocrime, which is currently running rampant in neighboring North Korea. According to a recent report from The Diplomat, cryptocriminals in North Korea are responsible for about 65 percent of all coins stolen and have taken more than $550 million worth of cryptocurrency in the last two years. The Un regime seems to have developed a taste for Monetha coin, which it attempts to mine legitimately. However, according to The Diplomat, the country’s in-house hacking group has targeted South Korean-owned coins in the past and has also taken its talents past the borders of the Korean peninsula.
Although prosecuting cryptocriminals like the ones found in Pyongyang can be a challenging, a trio of coin-scammers in Zambia were recently arrested by local officials after investigators determined their cryptocurrency investment service was a fraud. According to CCN.com, the three men ran Heritage Coin Resources Limited and tricked investors out of more than $2 million. However, because of Zambia’s ruling that cryptocurrency does not constitute legal tender, prosecution of these types of crimes can be difficult.
“Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in the Republic of Zambia; Secondly, [the Bank of Zambia] does not oversee, supervise nor regulate the cryptocurrency landscape. Consequently, any and all activities related to the buying, trading or usage of cryptocurrencies are performed at owner’s risk,” officials from the Bank of Zambia wrote in a press release, according to CCN.com.
Even laws in more developed countries like the United States can be tricky, especially because of the relative adolescence of cryptocurrencies. According to a report from Reuters, The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) brought charges against EtherDelta founder Zachary Coburn, who it accused of “operating an unregistered securities exchange.”
“This is a significant action by the SEC because it is the first enforcement action against an illegally operating exchange,” said Dina Ellis Rochkind of Paul Hastings LLP via an email to Reuters. “If you are trading securities — which most ICOs are — they must be traded on a registered Alternative Trading System or National Exchange. This will likely be the first of many enforcement actions and think the following sentence is interesting.”
The charges against EtherDelta were recently settled, and Coburn paid almost $400,000 to the SEC. The case has also set a precedent regarding the SEC’s 2017 rules on the registration of certain cryptocurrency-related businesses. While many casual crypto-investors still struggle to grasp the complexity of digital coins, ruling like this will help define the rules that everyone from large banks to individual coin miners will have to abide by.