AUG 28, 2023
Celebrating a Decade of Crypto in South Korea: Experts Convene to Chart the Future
The MK Virtual Asset Conference, an event held in Seoul yesterday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry, convened experts, politicians, and stakeholders to discuss the future of blockchain and digital assets.
The conference was hosted by Maeil Business Newspaper and its blockchain subsidiary Mblock, and sponsored by cryptocurrency exchange Korbit, the Korean Securities Association, and the Korea Derivatives Association. It served as a valuable opportunity to evaluate the current state of the crypto market and explore solutions for pressing challenges.
Inevitable rise of blockchain
One of the distinguished speakers at the event highlighted the inevitable rise of blockchain technology. Kim Yong-beom, CEO of Hashed Open Research, the research arm of Seoul-based crypto venture capital firm Hashed, said, “Blockchain is the antithesis of the modern financial and capital system. While traditional finance possesses its own merits, it also carries substantial transaction fees and is confined within national boundaries. It is only natural that such a counterforce has emerged to address these issues.”
He continued, “Given that traditional finance properly responds to blockchain technology’s rise and overcomes its limits, blockchain may lose its competitive edge. However, if traditional finance fails to do so, blockchain will not be easily dismissed.”
CEO Kim also highlighted the third section named “Blueprint for the Future Monetary System” of the Bank of International Settlements’ 2023 Annual Economic Report, which was published in June. The report states, “The BIS Innovation Hub, in partnership with central banks around the world, stands at the forefront of experimentation with CBDCs and tokenization.” According to Kim, the traditionally conservative financial institution, which had previously been skeptical about blockchain-based distributed ledger technology, has now shifted its position to be more accepting of blockchain.
Importance of institutional investors
During the conference, an academic underscored the importance of allowing institutional investors to enter the virtual asset space. Kang Hyoung-goo, an assistant professor in the Department of Finance at Hanyang University Business School, pointed out that the crypto market, when primarily driven by retail investors, tends to favor volatile assets over stable ones. Due to this inclination, more individual investors are attracted to exchanges where speculative trading is a frequent occurrence. This dynamic creates a vicious cycle, he explained.
Defining digital assets
On a different note, Lee Han-jin, a lawyer at Kim and Chang, one of the largest law firms in the country, emphasized the crucial need to establish a legal definition of digital assets. In Lee’s view, digital assets exist in the form of data on the blockchain, setting them apart from traditional assets. He argued that without a legal definition outlining the nature of these assets, they could potentially devolve into entities that mislead the public, lacking both legal reliability and trustworthiness.
Politicians also took the stage to share their thoughts. Back Hye-ryun, a Democratic Party of Korea member, expressed in her congratulatory speech her commitment to protecting virtual asset users through legislation. Kim Jong-min, another lawmaker from the same party, underscored the unstoppable nature of the blockchain trend. Yun Chang-hyun, a lawmaker of the ruling People Power Party, mentioned that while Bitcoin couldn’t establish itself as a key currency in an anarchic manner, stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are now positioned to fill that role.
Meanwhile, Kim So-young, Vice Chairman of the Financial Services Commission, stressed the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the societal impact of cryptocurrencies and how governments should oversee them. He emphasized that the Korean government aims to establish a balanced framework to facilitate the responsible development of digital assets. Furthermore, he highlighted the necessity of collaborating with major economies due to the global nature of virtual assets.