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South Korea stands firm on crypto ETF ban, unswayed by US approval

South Korea’s stance on cryptocurrency ETFs remains unchanged despite the U.S. giving the green light to a Bitcoin spot ETF. 

The South Korean government continues to disallow the launch of cryptocurrency ETFs, adhering to its long-standing policy of not recognizing digital currencies as financial assets. Since 2017, financial institutions in the country have been barred from investing in cryptocurrencies.

Local sources have reported that the Financial Services Commission (FSC) of South Korea reaffirms the government’s commitment to financial market stability and investor protection. The FSC official highlighted that there has been no review to alter the government’s policy on virtual asset investment by financial institutions.

This position was cemented on Dec. 13, 2017, when the government introduced emergency measures concerning virtual currencies. These measures prohibit financial institutions from holding, purchasing, using as collateral, or investing in virtual assets.

Despite other countries like China, Germany, and Canada operating spot ETFs and the U.S. allowing futures ETFs, South Korea views the SEC’s limited approval of spot ETFs as insufficient to influence its domestic policies. South Korean law, particularly Article 4 of the Capital Markets Act, specifies that only financial investment products, currencies, and general commodities can be underlying assets for ETFs, excluding cryptocurrencies.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) of South Korea echoes a cautious approach towards amending laws to include virtual assets as underlying assets for ETFs. In a recent interview with local media, an FSA official noted that the SEC’s limited approval of virtual asset ETFs was a reluctant move following a court decision and warned that allowing cryptocurrency investments could potentially weaken the domestic stock market base.

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