After South Korea announced plans to ban cryptocurrency trading, the value in the cryptocurrency fell by 13.5 percent in the early hours of Thursday.
The state is planning to clamp down on the trading of virtual currencies following concerns of tax evasion and fraud.
Park Sang-ki, South Korea’s justice minister, said: “There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and [the] justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges,”
“Some officials are pushing for stronger and stronger regulations because they only see more (investors) jumping in, not out,”
While trading plunged 13.5 percent elsewhere, in South Korea – where it trades at a 30 percent premium – the cryptocurrency plummeted 21 percent in value after the justice minister’s comments.
South Korea is currently a hotbed for Bitcoin, accounting for almost 20 percent of global transactions.
An outright ban will require a majority vote from the National Assembly and could take years. Even then, trading will still be possible.
“Keen traders, especially hackers, will find it tough to cash out their gains from virtual coin investments in Korea but they can go overseas, for example, Japan,” said Mun Chong-hyun, chief analyst at EST Security.
A ban “will make trading difficult here, but not impossible.”
News of the crackdown was not welcomed by the population of South Korea. 55,000 South Koreans signed a petition by Thursday afternoon requesting the presidential house to stop the crackdown on Bitcoin and other forms of virtual currency.
Whilst South Korea is hoping to a crackdown, elsewhere virtual currencies remain popular. A Japanese internet services provider recently announced plans to start paying employees in Bitcoins.
“Employees can receive salaries by Bitcoin if they want to,” said a spokesperson fromGMO Internet (TYO: 9449). “We hope to improve our own literacy of virtual currency by actually using it.”