DEC 21, 2023
Korean regulator monitors non-listed token amidst peer-to-peer trading surge
The South Korean financial regulator is closely monitoring BTCMobick, a non-listed token issued by crypto influencer Oh Tae-min, who is known for authoring books like “The Great Bitcoin” and “Bitcoin and the Geopolitics of the Dollar.” The Financial Services Commission (FSC) is cautioning local crypto exchanges regarding the potential for price manipulation should the token be listed.
The BTCMobick token is reportedly being traded peer-to-peer at around KRW 300,000, which is approximately equivalent to $230, in chat rooms of messaging apps like KakaoTalk outside of cryptocurrency exchanges. The token has gained enough traction to spur the emergence of dedicated apps that facilitate these peer-to-peer trades, charging fees for their services. Based on the size of the chat rooms and apps involved, it is estimated that approximately 3,000 participants are trading the token, according to a report by local news website Etoday.
As per another coverage by the same outlet, the Virtual Asset Inspection Division of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which operates under the FSC, has inquired with local crypto exchanges on two occasions — once in September and again this week — about whether they have listed or are planning to list the BTCMobick token. It’s rare for the financial authority to specifically target a particular token when making inquiries with crypto trading platforms.
Potential price manipulation
An FIU official explained the rationale behind the agency’s inquiry into crypto exchanges. The official stated that the probe aimed to caution the exchanges about potential price manipulation of the BTCMobick token. The concern is that many crypto users might suffer losses if such a token, which has been experiencing a continual rise in price outside of trading platforms, were to be listed. Currently, legal penalties for cryptocurrency price manipulation fall under the Virtual Asset User Protection Act, which will not be enforced until July 2024. This indicates a regulatory gap in the immediate term.
Hwang Suk-jin, a professor at Dongguk University’s Graduate School of International Affairs and Information Security, pointed out that while giving out privately generated tokens to friends or acquaintances doesn’t raise any legal issues, the situation changes once these tokens are listed for trading on exchanges and distributed more broadly in the market. In such scenarios, these tokens can become a source of legal disputes, he explained.
Amidst these developments, there are circulating rumors suggesting that BTCMobick is on the verge of being listed on exchanges. An industry insider has mentioned that there are brokers actively spreading these rumors, indicating that the token might soon become publicly tradable.
Oh Tae-min’s denial of rumors
Meanwhile, Oh Tae-min, the creator of BTCMobick who has been distributing his token for free, states that the token is part of an experiment intended to mimic the early stages of Bitcoin. However, critics are concerned that the personally issued token has no practical utility. Addressing the circulating rumors about the token’s potential listing on exchanges, Oh asserts that these rumors are baseless and false. He further warns that any brokers spreading such rumors are likely engaging in fraudulent activities.