The Iconist’s Note: The election of either of the two leading candidates would have been good news for ICON, so it’s just as well that Yoon won. As I said last month, the very public embrace of digital assets by South Korea’s next president should be a very good thing for ICON, one of Korea’s marquee crypto projects, particularly given chief technology partner ICONLOOP’s long history of collaboration with the public sector.

That said, how good Yoon’s election will be for the Korean crypto industry in general and ICON more specifically will depend on what he does with the financial authorities. Andall of this assumes his commitment to crypto is sincere, not simply a ploy to win young voters.

The Korean voters have spoken.

Former prosecutor-general Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party was elected as Korea’s 13th president on Wednesday.

When Yoon takes office in May, his ascension to the nation’s top post could have a significant impact on Korea’s crypto market, including ICON.

According to CoinDesk Korea, the Yoon administration is likely to:

  • Activate NFT markets
  • Gradually permit ICOs
  • Move to negative regulations

Yoon will seemingly focus on cultivating the virtual assets industry, while at the same time cracking down hard on illegal activity in the market.

His campaign pledges included:

  • Easing the tax burden on profits from cryptocurrency investments by raising the threshold from the current KRW 2.5 million to KRW 50 million.
  • Confiscate proceeds from illegitimate transactions
  • Permitting ICOs after introducing an IEO (Initial Exchange Offering) system
  • Enacting a basic law on digital assets and establishing an agency to promote digital industries
  • Promoting NFTs and the digital assets market

What’s getting particular attention is the pledge to go after ill-begotten profits, especially with victims of pyramid schemes and other scams of the rise.

Yoon vowed in January to create a “basic law on digital assets” that focuses on protecting users. The law would confiscate all profits from “unjust transactions” such as mis-selling, price manipulation and cross trading.

The next president is likely to accelerate building the systemic infrastructure needed to grow the virtual assets market, including NFTs.

Take his proposal to found an agency to promote digital industries, for example.

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) currently manages the virtual assets market. It has done little to promote the virtual assets industry, much to the chagrin of said industry. In particular, it has practically discouraged banks from issuing real-name bank accounts to cryptocurrency exchanges by holding banks solely accountable in cases of money laundering.

The proposed agency to promote digital industries would take specialized measures to promote and regulate virtual assets, based on the premise that digital assets are NOT finance, but something else.

Yoon is expected to amend the Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information to create a legal framework for specialized banks for digital asset transactions, too.

Cryptocurrency exchanges that are unjustly denied real name-bank accounts could ask the Korean Financial Intelligence Unit to verify their qualifications through the new banks, which would ensure they get accounts.

Now, before anyone gets too excited, an industry insider told CoinDesk Korea that how Yoon shakes up the financial authorities would have even more impact on the market given the importance of FSC regulations.

For example, he said, the FSC currently bans exchanges from having multiple bank accounts. Changing this regulation alone would improve the autonomy of the virtual assets industry.