Yoon Suk-yeol promises a major push for cryptocurrency
Image Source: Nikkei Asia

Yoon Suk-yeol promises a major push for cryptocurrency

Despite having no experience in business, Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea’s next president, has strong views on cryptocurrency, one of the most contentious topics in finance. Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea will take office in May with no prior business expertise but strong opinions on cryptocurrency, one of the most contentious financial matters.

South Korea’s president-elect,  Yoon Suk-yeol promises a major push for cryptocurrency

Yoon Suk-yeol promises a major push for cryptocurrency
Image Source: Nikkei Asia

Yoon, a former top prosecutor who won the tightest presidential election in the country’s history last week, has pledged to legalize initial coin offerings, or ICOs, as part of his cryptocurrency ambitions. He has also vowed to exempt bitcoin trading profits of up to 50 million won ($40,000) from taxation, treating them similarly to stock winners. He is a member of the People Power Party, which is conservative.

According to Yoon Seong-han, secretary-general of Korea Blockchain Association, an association that represents cryptocurrency exchanges and other market participants, the president’s stance is definitely appreciated. “As ICOs are banned now, we have no choice but to issue coins in Singapore and other countries. Ventures and startups will be able to raise money easily from investors [if the ban is lifted].”

Singapore-based Anndy Lian, chairman of the Netherlands-based crypto trading platform BigONE Exchange, applauded Yoon’s attitude. “He understands the importance of crypto,” Lian told Nikkei Asia.

Lee has been cautious when it comes to bitcoin. While Lee agreed with Yoon that cryptocurrencies should be treated like stocks, he opposed the idea of allowing coin issuances.

Cryptocurrencies, which can and do experience significant price swings, have sparked concerns about how they might be effectively managed.

Telecoms equipment maker Vivente owns a 34.2 percent stake in Bithumb Holdings, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and its shares rose 11.3 percent in as many days after Yoon was elected, before falling 5.37 percent on Monday and 2.39 percent on Tuesday.

Data released by the Financial Services Commission last month shows that traders in their 30s are the most enthusiastic buyers, accounting for 31% of purchases. These are followed by those in their 40s (27%), and those in their 20s. Men account for two-thirds of all users.

The majority of users had cryptocurrencies worth less than one million won, but 15% had cryptocurrencies worth more than ten million won. South Koreans have historically favored stocks as an investment tool.

The country’s benchmark Kospi index saw a record number of initial public offerings in 2021, with a total value of 17.2 trillion won. With a market value of 2.2 quadrillion won, the index climbed by 3.63 percent last year.

Yoon’s electoral victory of less than a percentage point was attributed to the support of socially and economically insecure young men. A high level of inflation, slow growth, and skyrocketing housing prices have all contributed to this growing discontent.

In Singapore, Yoon’s acceptance of Bitcoin has been met with a lot of skepticism. Although the city-state has positioned itself as an Asian hub for digital assets, its financial regulator has been selective in issuing crypto operators operating licenses, with only a handful of companies allowed to do business in the country.

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