Čvn 09

South Korea Claims $28M Tax From Bithumb But Finds No ‘Illegal Activity’

· June 8, 2018 · 8:00 pm

South Korea’s National Tax Service (NTS) has requested $30 billion won ($28 million) in taxes from major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb in a move which has gained positive feedback from the community.


Bithumb ‘Will Not Object’ To Tax Bill

Local media reported on June 8 that Bithumb, which posted revenues of 427 billion won ($397 million) in 2017, will pay the bill following an audit from South Korea’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

As a result of the audit, which occurred in April, the IRS also confirmed that investigators had not found “any illegal activities such as tax evasion.”

An NTS official said:

The IRS has conducted a tax investigation against Bithumb for the 2014 to 2017 business years. […] We understand that Bithumb has decided to pay the related taxes without any objection to the imposed tax amount.

Cryptocurrency commentators received the news warmly on social media, noting that Bithumb getting the all-clear from regulators marked a positive step forward for South Korea’s exchange industry.

South Korea Stabilizes Crypto

Earlier this year, the government moved to clamp down on exchange operators, banning multiple accounts and forcing users to link their exchange account with their bank account. Foreign accounts were also halted, along with provisional warnings from authorities that exchanges would soon need to respond to tax obligations from the previous 2017-18 tax year.

The boon for Bithumb, meanwhile, comes as Seoul continues to consider reversing its previous ban on ICOs. A National Assembly committee dedicated to studying the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ recommended during a meeting on May 29 that it plans to “establish a legal basis for cryptocurrency trading, including permission of ICOs.”

Also among its recommendations was making “improvements” to the “transparency” of the local cryptocurrency industry, along with “establishing a healthy trade order,” local news outlet Business Korea reported.

What do you think about Bithumb’s tax bill? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of BigStockPhoto

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Kvě 19

eToro’s 9M Users Set To Increase with US Exchange & Wallet Launch

· May 18, 2018 · 8:00 pm

UK-based trading platform eToro has announced it will launch an international cryptocurrency exchange and mobile wallet, debuting in the US for the first time.


$100M Series E Funds Put To Work

As part of a keynote speech at the Consensus 2018 conference in New York which finished May 16, eToro CEO Yoni Assia confirmed the move, which will provide US traders with ten cryptocurrency pairs.

etoro

“U.S. crypto holders have a strong appetite for diversified portfolios,” he said quoted in an accompanying press release.

The platform’s ambitious plans come as little surprise on the back of a $100 million Series E funding round which it completed in March this year.

Prior to that, eToro had revealed it now counted nine million users on its books as it targeted international markets in Asia.

China Minsheng Capital was the major force behind the funding round, Bitcoinist reported at the time, with Japan’s SBI Group, Korea Investment Partners and World Wide Invest also among the contributors.

Ex-Samsung Executive Leads eToro USA

For the US, which is notorious for its patchwork regulatory landscape regarding trading, the company will create offshoot eToro USA, led by ex-Samsung director of innovation strategy Guy Hirsch.

“We know that there is a strong demand in the U.S. for crypto and we are excited to be able to offer U.S. investors the opportunity to learn about and invest across multiple cryptocurrencies,” Hirsch commented.

It is not yet known how the company will navigate obstacles such as New York’s BitLicense scheme, which has seen multiple cryptocurrency operators deny service to its residents.

The wallet and exchange will see a gradual rollout “over the coming months,” the former “eventually” being available for both Android and iOS devices.

In addition to standard functions, the wallet will also contain as yet unspecified “other features.”

Will eToro’s expansion move boost cryptocurrency trading in the US? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, eToro, Twitter

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Kvě 02

Venezuela Touts Petro To India, Coinsecure With 30% Oil Discount Promises

· May 1, 2018 · 7:00 pm

Venezuela is leveraging its oil wealth to shoehorn president Nicolas Maduro’s Petro cryptocurrency into foreign markets.


Coinsecure Goes For Petro?

The practice came to light following local media in India reporting Caracas had offered a 30% discount on its crude oil imports if the government paid in Petro.

At the same time, a delegation visited India in March and came to an agreement with embattled local Bitcoin exchange Coinsecure to offer the trading of Petro for Bitcoin and rupees.

By the same token, other exchanges could interact with the coin through a white label agreement, Business Standard reported on April 29.

Coinsecure CEO Mohit Kalra told the publication:

That would be run by their brand name, but the back-end will be us. We plan to provide them with 10-15 cryptocurrency players.

Coinsecure Goes For Petro?

Kalra: Venezuela ‘Going To Different Countries’

Venezuela has seen mixed reactions to notionally oil-pegged Petro since issuing it earlier this year. From an outright ban by the US to calls from the international community that the scheme was nothing but a ploy to circumvent sanctions, Venezuela has courted controversy from the outset.

Separate claims involve Russia, which some say was instrumental in facilitating Petro’s creation.

Opening up alternative markets for trade thus comes as little surprise as Maduro attempts to live up to his original promise the coin’s market cap would be a least that of Venezuela’s oil reserves – around $5.9 billion.

Kalra explained:

They are going to different countries and making offers. The offer that they have given to the Indian government is: you buy Petro and we will give you a 30 percent discount on oil purchases.

Coinsecure meanwhile continues to face pressure following a hack of its reserves amounting to $3.5 million last month.

Its most recent update on April 29 seemed to imply that compensation payments for customers would soon begin, but that the exchange “doesn’t have much of a say” as investigations are still ongoing.

What do you think about Venezuela trading Petro with India? Let us know in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AdobeStock

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Bře 12

Controversial Monaco Debit Card Progresses After 2 Years Of Delays

· March 12, 2018 · 1:30 pm

Controversial Bitcoin debit card issuer Monaco has finally begun closed beta testing after almost two years of development.


MCO Token Spikes After Months Of Tracking Bitcoin

Originally founded in June 2016, Monaco promises cryptocurrency spending at “perfect interbank exchange rates” but faced controversy after failed deals and drastic reworking of its product offering late last year.

Now, the company’s MCO token has regained some of the ground it lost since the time of Bitcoin’s own all-time highs in December, reaching $9.10 on Coinmarketcap. It had previously reached almost $19, before dropping to lows of $4.75 February 6 – also in line with Bitcoin.

Commenting on its sponsorship of the ongoing Money 20/20 event in Singapore, Monaco CEO Kris Marszalek described the unveiling of new products in light of the beta announcement as “revolutionary.”

“Together, they form a complete suite of revolutionary financial products and position Monaco as the first global financial institution built on blockchain, as well as, a destination platform for anyone interested in cryptocurrency,” he said.

A promotional video about the features will be seen by “100 million plus people in 2018,” Marszalek added on Twitter.

Dodgy Visa Partnerships And Price Crashes

Monaco’s path to release has been troublesome. In October 2017, Bloomberg ran a piece in which it debunked the company’s repeated claims it had a partnership with Visa.

While Visa finally approved Monaco’s offering to Singaporean residents in November, Monaco had said the partnership had been in place since May.

At the same time, a sudden change to the card’s roadmap saw a key feature in the form of smart asset contracts disappear, causing MCO to crash 40%.

The events led to a round of suspicion among cryptocurrency users, with accusations appearing online the product contained elements of a scam.

The cryptocurrency debit card industry as a whole remains a challenging environment this year. On and off-ramps into Bitcoin via exchanges are becoming increasingly cost-effective thanks to SegWit implementation, while cardholders continue to pay heavy premiums for the convenience of spending coins under the guise of legacy payment instruments.

What do you think about Monaco? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shuttesrtock, Monaco

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Úno 28

So Why Did Goldman Sachs-Backed Circle Really Buy Poloniex?

· February 28, 2018 · 10:00 am

Goldman Sachs-backed startup Circle made waves earlier this week when it acquired cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex. A couple of experts share their thoughts on the implications for the soon-to-be first compliant US crypto exchange and its customers.


Most Crypto Exchanges ‘Over-Regulate Themselves’

As the dust settles on Circle’s acquisition of Poloniex, U.S. regulators are keeping a close eye on KYC/AML compliance of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Joseph Weinberg

Joseph Weinberg, OECD Think Tank Special Advisor and Chairman of Shyft, a blockchain protocol that will create a new standard for the KYC/AML mandates, shared his comments with Bitcoinist. He states:

Most crypto exchanges that are processing fiat to crypto transactions are very compliant and, in some cases, even more so than banks. It all really depends on jurisdictions and the compliance policies given by countries to crypto exchanges.

He continued:

For crypto exchanges, the challenge lies in how little formal guidelines there are from regulators. As a result, most of the industry has been doing self-compliance in absence of clear procedures. To err on the safe side, crypto exchanges over-regulate themselves. For example, most exchanges ask for passport verification in order to confirm users’ identities, whereas most banks only require government-issued IDs, such as drivers licenses.

Interestingly, Circle acquired the crypto exchange over a year after announcing it was shifting focus from Bitcoin to blockchain-based services. At the time, the company informed its Bitcoin customers that they can can cash out or transfer their balances to Coinbase, if they wished to continue to use the cryptocurrency.

So why did Circle decide to jump back into the crypto game?

It appears that Poloniex was struggling to keep up with the unexpected surge in new users as prices skyrocketed in the second half of 2017. Additionally, being based in the United States, the company also had to keep up with rising compliance costs as it rolled out its new KYC policies late last year.

Weinberg explains:

In the past, Poloniex had a lot of issues with onboarding new users and properly building out its KYC process, mainly due to the large amounts of time it takes to verify users. Given the level of KYC that exchanges force themselves to go through, scaling compliance is almost a separate product that the exchange has to build out.

According to him, this is where Circle comes in with their KYC/AML expertise. He says:

Through this acquisition, Circle will deploy more people to help handle compliance—more employees to build and process KYC due diligence faster. This is the same type of issue traditional banks have when it comes to scaling. Compliance costs keep multiplying, and yet, they aren’t always found to be effective.

The SEC Is Watching

Meanwhile, another takeaway has been put forth by Nathaniel Popper, author of Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money.

Popper noted on Twitter that the SEC informally suggested to Circle that no enforcement action will occur if the Boston-based startup “cleans up Poloniex and turns it into a regulated exchange.” He adds:

The SEC seems to be saying here that it’s okay if you broke the rules, as long as you get acquired by a legitimate player before we crack down on you.

The question now seems to be whether the SEC will apply this same thinking to other virtual currency exchanges if they are acquired by large players.

In addition to facilitating compliance, Circle also announced that it will add fiat bridges and expand operation to other markets. Namely, the company promised to explore “USD, EUR, and GBP connectivity that Circle already brings to its compliant Pay, Trade, and Invest products.”

This would imply that the exchange must also become compliant and answer to regulators from across the pond, who are currently scratching their heads on how to approach cryptocurrencies without stifling innovation in the process.

Therefore, regulators in the U.S. and abroad could be playing the carrot and stick strategy by providing an incentive for crypto exchanges to get acquired by the large players, such as Goldman Sachs, before a potential crackdown. Admittedly, this could also be a clever way for traditional finance to not only appear innovative through association but also assimilate would-be future competitors.

If true, the strategy may be futile and usher in the Streisand effect to boot. As technology advances, so do new methods of exchanging cryptocurrency. Therefore, assimilating centralized exchanges like Poloniex could force users to migrate en masse to decentralized exchanges and further bolster their development.

Why do you believe Circle acquired Poloniex? Share your comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter/@nathanielpopper.

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Úno 26

Goldman Sachs-backed Circle Buys Poloniex Cryptocurrency Exchange for $400M

· February 26, 2018 · 11:30 am

Circle, the notionally cryptocurrency-focused payment services startup, has reportedly bought exchange Poloniex for $400 million.


Job Done Between Circle And Polo

According to Fortune editor Robert Hackett who leaked the news in advance, an official statement will follow Monday. The takeover means a cryptocurrency exchange is now under direct ownership of a Goldman Sachs funded company.

Hackett wrote on Twitter earlier this morning:

Rumors have swirled in recent weeks that Circle has been in talks to buy the cryptocurrency exchange (Poloniex). […] I can confirm here for the first time that, yes, Circle has completed the acquisition. (A source familiar with the terms told me the price tag came to roughly $400 M.)

Circle Takes On Crypto Exchange Giants

Circle had fallen out of favor with diehard Bitcoin fans after it made the decision to divest itself of Bitcoin interaction. One of the pioneering major movers in cryptocurrency, many saw the removal of Bitcoin from the Circle Pay app as a rejection of the more innovative values cryptocurrency represents.

Commenting on Poloniex’s incorporation, however, Hackett saw Circle establishing a firm foothold in the now vastly-expanded crypto corporate arena:

This is a huge coup for Circle—putting it within striking distance of other big U.S. crypto exchanges, like Coinbase’s GDAX, Kraken, and Bittrex.

According to the report, Circle’s revenue from cryptocurrency trading would significantly increase thanks to Poloniex – up to around $1 billion per year, proportionally roughly similar to the combined revenue of the entire exchange sector of South Korea.

Poloniex itself had been facing mounting criticism in recent months. A huge influx of new users over the second half of 2017 saw technical problems and outages at key trading moments as technology struggled to cope with demand.

Also struggling was customer support, a problem repeated across many exchanges in the industry as newbie traders made rookie mistakes and relied on staff to provide a remedy.

What do you think about Circle buying Poloniex? Let us know in the comments below!


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Úno 18

The New Normal: Cryptocurrency Goes Mainstream This Tax Season

· February 18, 2018 · 7:30 am

Until quite recently, most cryptocurrency investors either did not know or did not care to pay taxes on the capital gains they accumulated buying and selling digital coins. The cryptocurrency community is now facing a hard truth: they have to pay taxes just like all the rest of us.


[Editor’s note: This is a guest article by Mario Costanz, CEO of Happy Tax]

Virtual currencies exploded onto the investment scene last year, due in large part to the astronomical rise in the popularity of Bitcoin and its many successors. Interest in this exciting new investment shows no signs of slowing, and soon cryptocurrency will be as ubiquitous as the other traditional securities traded daily on Wall Street.

Until quite recently, however, most cryptocurrency investors either did not know or did not care to pay taxes on the capital gains they accumulated buying and selling digital coins. The cryptocurrency community is now facing a hard truth: they have to pay taxes just like all the rest of us.

The attention that virtual currencies are receiving from federal and state regulators is a positive sign that this innovative technology is heading towards the mainstream. Of course, it has a long way to go until it gets there. In the meantime, however, cryptocurrency investors need to accept the reality of growing government oversight.

Paying Cryptocurrency Taxes is Not Optional

Bitcoin emerged from an anonymous source far on the fringes of the internet nearly a decade ago. For a time, cryptocurrency traders enjoyed an investment environment free from government oversight. This has caused many investors to turn a blind eye to increasing regulation, particularly from the Internal Revenue Service.

Tax liability for virtual currency investments is still a bit of a gray area in many respects, and new laws and policies are sketching out the boundaries. However, one thing is absolutely clear: if you trade cryptocurrencies, you must report your activity to the IRS.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Asked to Provide a Clearer Cryptocurrency Tax Framework

To the great dismay of many early virtual currency investors, the IRS declared virtual currencies to be taxable capital assets back in 2014. Like other capital assets, cryptocurrencies are subject to the capital gains rules. The tax rate depends on how long you held your coins before you sold them, as well as the price you bought in and the price you sold out. If your capital losses on your cryptocurrency investments exceed your capital gains, you can claim the loss as a deduction on your income tax returns, up to $3,000.

In other words, the same rules apply to cryptocurrency investors as taxpayers who trade stocks and other securities. This sounds simple enough for any seasoned trader, but unfortunately, things in the cryptocurrency world tend to get complicated quickly.

Most securities are used only in straightforward buy-and-sell transactions. However, cryptocurrencies are also intended to be used to purchase goods and services. Contrary to the popular belief – and wishful thinking – of many cryptocurrency investors, cashing out of your virtual currency investments isn’t the only taxable event in the lifespan of your investment. Rather, tax liability arises whenever cryptocurrencies are traded for other coins, cashed out into fiat currency, or used to purchase goods and services. So, for example, if you buy a new couch on Overstock.com using bitcoin, your purchase will be subject to capital gains tax in addition to any sales tax that may apply.

Paying Crypto Taxes Using Cryptocurrency

This type of double-taxation poses a real challenge to the integration of cryptocurrency into retail payment systems. Fortunately, however, it isn’t all bad news. Just last week, the Arizona State Senate passed a bill allowing residents to pay their state income taxes using “Bitcoin, Litecoin, or any other cryptocurrency” allowed by the state revenue department. While the bill still needs to go through the Arizona House of Representatives before it becomes a law, it represents a landmark moment in the cryptocurrency world.

The Arizona bill has been received with a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism. On one hand, the inherent value of cryptocurrencies is still up in the air. Virtual currencies have become legendary for their volatility. The price of Bitcoin more than doubled in the last two months of 2017 before falling again to half its value in the first two months of 2018.

Bitcoin Taxes

Well-known cryptocurrency critics, like Warren Buffett and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, claim that cryptocurrencies offer little to any market value and that current market prices are fueled entirely by speculation. On the other hand, the blockchain technology that supports the virtual currency market is a groundbreaking innovation that has the potential to change the way people use money entirely.

The fate of the Arizona law is now in the hands of state representatives, and it remains to be seen how the saga will unfold. It’s a bold legislative move that may be tossed aside by the state’s more conservative House of Representatives. However, it’s also a sign of the times. Arizona recognizes the potential value of virtual currencies as a technology, not just a security or replacement for traditional cash.

As a result, the state is posturing itself as a cryptocurrency-friendly market in anticipation of greater adoption of virtual currency technology and its derivatives. While the long-term viability of any virtual currency remains to be seen, the integration of cryptocurrency into government revenue streams is a positive sign for the future of this exciting new technology.

Will you be paying taxes on your cryptocurrency income this season? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of HappyTax, Shutterstock 

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Led 30

South Korea: Anonymous Trading Ban Leaves a ‘Million’ Users in Limbo

· January 30, 2018 · 9:00 am

South Korea cryptocurrency exchanges are complaining of unfair treatment as the country’s ban on anonymous trading begins Tuesday.


Banks Favor Big Names

According to local news media outlet Business Korea, exchanges using corporate bank accounts may face sudden halts to service or even an obligation to cease trading altogether.

Korean authorities deemed January 30th the date when all citizens trading cryptocurrency must do so through just one account, the identity details of which match their bank account.

Banks have been working to implement the required system at breakneck speed as details were finalized just weeks ago, but teething problems have meant not every exchange is in a position to comply with the new laws.

South Korea Exchange Bithumb Hacked For 'Tens Of Millions' Of Won

Specifically, four major exchanges appear to have been given preferential treatment based upon their size, Business Korea reports. The media outlet states:

…Banks decided to provide a new virtual account service that uses a real name system only to four companies – Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Cobit – which had previously issued virtual accounts, citing their mounting workloads among others.

Other exchanges using corporate rather than virtual accounts may thus be left in limbo as of today, along with the funds of their users who could total over one million.

The result would be a regulatory ‘blind spot’ for those holdings, ironically shielding them from the anti-money laundering eyes of regulators who demanded the switch-up in the first place.

Adoption Push Shows Divide Between Big And Small

The big players in the South Korea exchange arena are faring conspicuously better at the end of January compared to smaller operations. On Monday, major e-commerce platform WeMakePrice even announced it would begin accepting up to 12 coins as payment via a partnership with the largest exchange by volume Bithumb.

Meanwhile, HTS Coin, one of the lesser exchanges facing delays in getting virtual account support from banks, complained that it had itself begun building an identity scheme with its banking partner back in December. This, it was told, was subsequently canceled.

“We have already executed sufficient procedures for confirming the identity of a member when receiving a new member via a corporate account,” a spokesman told Business Korea. “It is against equity to allow only a few exchanges to issue new virtual accounts.”

What do you think about the anonymous trading ban? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Led 25

Ottawa Police Hunting for Armed Bitcoin Robbery Suspects

· January 25, 2018 · 8:00 am

Police in Ottawa, Canada, are on the manhunt for armed Bitcoin robbery suspects who staged an attempted daylight robbery of a Bitcoin financial business.


The world of crypto can become a dangerous place at times. This usually occurs when someone ventures out to personally buy bitcoins from an buyer they do not know, all the while carrying quite a bit of cash. Yet even a cryptocurrency business is not a safe guarantee, as was evident by Ukrainian police seizing crypto assets from the Forklog founder recently. The latest incident of a Bitcoin robbery took place in Ottawa, Canada, where armed men tried to rob a Bitcoin business.

Gunning for Bitcoin

On January 23rd, three men entered a Bitcoin financial business located in an industrial park in Ottawa at around 11am. (So far, the business has not been named in media reports.) All three men were armed with handguns.

The robbers took control of four employees that worked at the business and bound them. One of the bound employees was hit in the head with a pistol during the ordeal. (The employee later required some medical attention at the hospital.) A fifth employee was not detected by the criminals, and he was able to contact the police.

Armed Hosers on the Loose

The criminals then fled the business empty-handed. Police noted that one of the Bitcoin robbery suspects fled into a nearby ravine. They were then able to track him down and arrest him. The suspect has been identified as 19-year-old Jimmy St-Hilaire. He’s been charged with the following crimes:

  • Five (5) counts of robbery with a firearm
  • Five (5) counts of point a firearm
  • Five (5) counts of forcible confinement
  • Wear disguise
  • Conspiracy to Commit and indictable offence
  • Carry concealed weapon
  • Possess firearm while prohibited
  • Possess weapon for committing an offence
  • Possess loaded regulated firearm

The other two criminals are still on the lam, and the police are putting on a massive manhunt looking for them. The Ottawa police are also looking for a person of interest who was in the business when the robbery began but who later fled the scene. People who work at other businesses within the industrial park have been shaken by the Bitcoin robbery attempt, especially as it took place during daylight hours.

One wonders what the criminals were hoping to gain from the robbery. It may be that the business had cash on hand to handle cryptocurrency buying and selling. Perhaps they were hoping to force the employees to transfer funds to a specific address. Whatever the reason for the robbery attempt, it is fortunate that the employees were not seriously hurt.

Overall, the public’s fascination with Bitcoin, along with the massive gains it made in 2017, have emboldened some criminals to physically rob or even kidnap people in order to obtain some ill-gotten gains.

Will crypto robbery attempts become an everyday occurrence? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@JudyTrinhCBC and Pexels.

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Led 24

South Korea Fines 6 Exchanges For Security Law ‘Violations’

· January 24, 2018 · 8:30 am

Six major South Korea cryptocurrency exchanges have received fines of around 25 million won ($23,500) for lax security measures which “violated” laws.


6 Of 10 Exchanges Ordered To Pay

As local news media outlet Yonhap News Agency reports Wednesday, government officials will press forward with penalties in what some commentators view as an increasingly promising sign of bringing the domestic cryptocurrency industry under regulatory control.

“Although the size of transactions and the number of users are surging, overall user protection measures are insufficient,” the publication quotes the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) as saying.

South Korea

The decision to fine exchanges flouting the Information and Communications Act, which include well-known names such as Korbit, Coinone and Coinplug, follows a joint investigation into security setups at ten exchanges which several government agencies ran from October to December last year.

‘Tiny’ Fines

The move is the latest is Seoul’s ongoing bid to solidify the exchange market, having confirmed this week that anonymous trading would end January 30 and exchanges must pay tax on 2017 profits in full by April 30.

Reactions have been mixed, with native exchange users in particular sensitive following mass uproar resulting from the government’s handling of the issue over the past months.

Consensus appears to be similarly lacking on the fines, a KCC source telling Yonhap the amounts involved are “too low” and industry figures likewise voicing suspicions.

“I know there is an indication that the amount imposed on each operator is too low, but this measure imposes the maximum amount possible under current information and communication network law,” the official stated.

Nonetheless, security problems at Korean exchanges have received significant negative press amid rumors North Korea was stealing funds for its own ends on a regular basis.

Amid the suspicion, one media company hired white hat hackers to create and then compromise accounts on five exchanges, which it reports was successfully done with what it describes as “basic” tools.

What do you think about the South Korean exchange fines? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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