Another day, another large Korean bank gets into the crypto asset custodial services business.

This time it’s the Woori Financial Group, which has joined hands with bitcoin-based fintech solutions provider Coinplug.

From the Korea Economic Daily (a.k.a. the Hankyung):

Digital asset custody is a service that safely stores and manages digital assets, including cryptocurrency, owned by various entities and organizations. Demand for the service has been growing lately, with a much higher number of Korean firms starting to own various types of cryptocurrencies for business diversification or investment purposes.”

Or ask Coindesk put it:

Custody allows Korean firms to invest in crypto without having to touch the asset themselves.”

Interestingly enough, under Korean law, local domestic entities such as banks are barred from using services provided by cryptocurrency exchanges. Which means if they have crypo assets, they need to store them on storage devices of their own, such as USBs.

Needless to say, this poses serious risks. God knows how many USBs this writer has lost.

Hence, the growing demand for custodial services.

Korean organizations with digital assets would prefer Korean banks to hold their valuables. But again, local regulations forbid banks from offering custodial services of their own. Hence the joint ventures.

Woori Financial Group is the third major Korean bank to enter the digital asset custody service business. KB formed a joint venture with Haechi Labs and Hashed last November, while Shinhan Bank formed one with Korbit, Blocko and research firm Fair Square Lab. Another major bank, Nonghyup, will be getting involved in digital assets as well.

What this demonstrates is that while the South Korean government has been slow to embrace digital assets, the nation’s banks clearly think they are important, a belief they are backing up with corporate shares in digital asset companies.

Also in the Korean blockchain space…

  • Speaking of major Korean companies betting big on digital assets, Samsung Electronics has made a series of investments in the non-fungible token (NFT) market, a move Korean tech news website EToday calls “an attempt to get early control” of a rising market that could be “the next bitcoin.” Anyway, recent investments include:
    • Samsung Electronics investment wing SamsungNext’s participation in NFT-powered social platform NIfty’s USD 10 million seed round. Little piece of fun: “Nifty’s will be working with Warner Bros. on NFTs tethered to the upcoming animated film “Space Jam” featuring LeBron James and the Looney Tunes characters.
    • SamsungNext has also invested in NFT-powered art market SuperRare, NFT game developer Dapper Labs (of CryptoKitties fame) and blockchain and NFT developer Alchemy.
    • Samsung Venture Investment invested in Hong Kong-based NFT and blockchain game developer Animoca Brands.
    • It should be noted Samsung makes and sells stuff that can store digital assets including phones and TVs that double as art frames.
  • Doing yeoman’s work in introducing local readers to domestic cryptocurrency projects worth knowing about, Korean business news site The Bell looks at MediBloc, which has been developing blockchain solutions to safely and conveniently storing, transmitting and using medical data. They’ve taken part in a consortium with KT and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, collaborated with Massachusetts General Hospital, and secured investment from Naver and IMM.
    • Anyway, you can check out their site here.
  • With local cryptocurrency exchanges required to partner with local banks by Sept. 24, some are moving to delist dozens or even hundreds of altcoins. This is causing the price of some altcoins to plummet. Many altcoins holders are HODLing, but then again, with their coins next to worthless (at least for now), it’s not like they have much of a choice.