SEOUL, Jul. 6 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean banks’ investment in crypto-assets remained low despite a recent craze for the new type of digital currencies, a central bank report said Friday.
The outstanding balance of virtual accounts in local banks reached 2 trillion won (US$1.79 billion) as of December last year, according to the report by the Bank of Korea (BOK).
The amount is equivalent to some 8 percent of the total deposits operated by South Korean brokerage houses, which are worth 26 trillion won.
“The amount of crypto-asset investment is not really big, compared with other equity markets, and local financial institutions’ exposure to possible risks of digital assets is insignificant,” said the BOK report. “Against this backdrop, we expect crypto-assets to have a limited impact on the South Korean financial market.”
Last year, prices of cryptocurrencies rose sharply and caused a flood of speculation that overheated the market.
The South Korean government has come up with a series of measures, including a real-name account system and a ban on investment by minors, to make the market more controllable and transparent. It is also considering taxing digital currency trading through a capital gains tax or sales tax.
Prices of Bitcoin hover around 8 million won in May in South Korea after peaking at 25.23 million won on Jan. 7. Its daily transactions dropped to an average 200 billion won in May from a record 4 trillion won in December 2017.