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While the US Embraces Bitcoin ETFs, South Korea Stays the Course

The flip side of the crypto coin, South Korea remains unwavering in its stance against BTC ETFs
January 15, 2024

In a significant turn of events, the United States has granted approval for Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) after a decade-long anticipation. However, across the Pacific, South Korea remains resolute in its stance against BTC ETFs. This divergence in approach not only reflects the global nuances surrounding cryptocurrency but also raises questions about the regulatory paths nations choose to navigate in this ever-evolving digital landscape.

South Korea's Financial Services Commission (FSC) has unequivocally stated that the launch of virtual currency ETFs is deemed "impossible" within its jurisdiction, asserting that "nothing will change." This steadfast commitment comes amid a broader ban on banks and financial institutions from engaging in the buying and ownership of cryptocurrencies, with the FSC citing concerns about the potential "illegal outflow of domestic funds overseas due to credit card payments on foreign crypto exchanges."

According to an FSC official, the ban is a strategic move aimed at "stabilizing" the financial markets and safeguarding the interests of investors. The government's long-standing principle of restricting financial institutions from investing in virtual assets aligns with this objective, with the official emphasizing the absence of adversaries in this approach. Drawing parallels with countries like the United States, Hong Kong, and Germany, where crypto futures ETFs or spot ETFs have already been launched, the official reiterated the legal impossibility of introducing a virtual asset ETF within the South Korean framework.

As the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) greenlights the listing and trading of spot Bitcoin ETFs, South Korea remains steadfast in its regulatory approach. The contrasting narratives reveal a complex web of perspectives, with South Korea emphasizing market stability and investor protection over embracing crypto ETFs. This regulatory divergence prompts contemplation on the broader implications for both nations and underscores the ongoing global conversation surrounding cryptocurrency regulations.

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