Critical revisions to Korea’s financial laws needed to promote Korea’s blockchain and cryptocurrency industries might be facing their last chance.

Korean-language blockchain news outlet BlockMedia reports that as Korea convenes an extraordinary parliament session for 30 days starting Monday, the blockchain industry is watching to see if the the assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee will finally submit revisions to the Financial Transactions Reporting Act (FTRA) to a plenary session for a vote.

Those revisions, which call for cryptocurrency exchanges to register with the Financial Services Commission’s Financial Intelligence Unit, are seen as a first step in bringing blockchain and cryptocurrency into Korea’s institutional mainstream.

South Korea’s Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Science and ICT, Financial Services Commission and other government bodies have been urging lawmakers to get a move on and pass the revisions before June, when the FATF inspects whether members countries are implementing the task force’s anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines. The government also needs the revisions to be passed before crafting crypto tax policy, the National Tax Service’s preemptive efforts notwithstanding.

Last month, however, the Legislation and Judiciary Committee failed to pass the revisions so it could be voted on in a plenary session, with lawmakers arguing that other more pressing laws connected with livelihood issues should be dealt with first.

So the FTRA revisions got put on the back burner, along with countless other bills.

The good news is if the committee submits the revisions to a plenary vote, history shows that non-controversial bills pass with little problem. The key is getting the committee to submit the bill to a vote in the first place, something that requires ensuring lawmakers understand the urgency of the matter.

A legal expert told Block Media that the Financial Services Committee hasn’t been pushing the revisions as hard as it pushed revisions to the so-called Three Data-Related Laws the government regarded as key to developing Korea’s big data industry.

The bigger concern is that if a plenary session fails to pass the FTRA revisions this time around, it’s unlikely to pass them at all. This is because lawmakers will be focused on the general legislative election set for April. A blockchain industry official told the Block Post that with the election just around the corner, it didn’t seem likely there’d be another chance to pass the revisions.

That said, the Block Post notes that the parliament sometimes passes unpassed legislation right before a session ends, so there’s still a chance even if it doesn’t vote on the bill during this extraordinary session.


Also in the Korean cryptospace…

  • South Korea Commits $16M to Training Future Digital Finance Experts
    (By TIng Peng, Cointelegraph, Feb. 13)
    Korea’s top financial watchdog and Seoul Metropolitan Government will be investing US$16 million over the next four years to train digital finance experts. The move comes amid increasing demand in South Korea for fintech professionals, including blockchain experts, as officials improve Korea’s regulatory environment.
  • Domestically Developed Cryptocurrencies Setting New Records
    (By Yoon Young-sil, BusinessKorea, Feb. 10)
    As we noted last week, Korean cryptos have done well as of late. And here’s another theory as to why: “According to industry sources, the rally has to do with the Wuhan coronavirus, which is highlighting the value of cryptocurrencies as safe digital assets, and the fact that the total deposits of blockchain-based financial services recently topped one trillion won to result in higher expectations for blockchain commercialization.”
  • North Korean Internet Use Spikes 300% as Regime Turns to Cryptocurrencies
    (By Helen Partz, Cointelegraph, Feb. 11)
    North Korean internet use has tripled over the last three years as Pyongyang turns to cryptocurrencies to get around international sanctions. North Korea’s cryptocurrency activities include mining and, it is believed, hacks of cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea and elsewhere. Some third countries might unwittingly be hosting North Korean cyberoperations, too. You can learn about North Korea’s cryptocurrency activities — including its mining of the privacy-focused coin Monero — in this report, too.