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Feb 20, 2018

Bitcoin rises as South Korea talks 'active' support for trading

FILE PHOTO: A collection of Bitcoin (virtual currency) tokens are displayed in this picture illustration

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Bitcoin’s stunning rebound continued on Tuesday, with the world’s largest digital token extending February’s gains after South Korean regulators signaled they will actively support what they called “normal” cryptocurrency trading.

In a further shift from earlier rhetoric -- which hinted at an outright ban of cryptocurrency exchanges -- Choe Heungsik, governor of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service, told reporters he wants to see normalized trading of digital assets, and said the FSS is making efforts to do that. Bitcoin rose 3.8 per cent to US$11,502 at 7:15 a.m. in New York, heading for a one-month high, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg.

The move takes Bitcoin to almost double its recent intraday low of US$5,922 on Feb. 6, while rival coins also advanced, with Litecoin jumping 9.7 per cent. Cryptocurrencies had plunged across the board through much of January amid mounting concern regulators would crack down on the burgeoning industry, but they’ve found an apparent bottom after some well-received Senate testimony from U.S. officials and a more conciliatory tone in South Korea.

“South Korea did not ban Bitcoin,” said Arthur Hayes, Chief Executive Officer of BitMEX, a Seychelles-based peer-to-peer crypto-coin trading platform. “We’ve now gone up almost double in the last few weeks, and I think a lot of this is people coming around to the fact that Bitcoin trading isn’t going anywhere.”

Establishing a real-name account system and money-laundering guidelines will be among efforts to normalize crypto trading, according to Choe.

“People are seeing governments are not out to ban crypto trading,” Hayes said.

--With assistance from Colin Simpson

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