Crypto.com expands in South Korea despite increasing regulatory scrutiny

Avatar


Centralized cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com will launch its cryptocurrency trading app to South Korean retail investors on April 29.

The platform will initially offer access to over 150 cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Crypto.com app for South Korean users, which is a significant market segment for the company’s growth, wrote Eric Anziani, the president and CEO of Crypto.com, in an April 2 announcement:

“South Korean regulators are thoughtfully advancing the sector and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with them to help grow the industry responsibly.”

The new platform will take over from crypto exchange OK-BIT, which was acquired by Crypto.com in 2022. OK-BIT will cease services on April 29, the day of the app’s launch.

The new app will exclusively serve retail investors in the country, as South Korean institutions have been banned from investing in crypto since 2017.

Since the country’s financial regulators refuse to recognize crypto as financial assets, institutions are also banned from investing in crypto-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The launch in South Korea is part of the crypto exchange’s global expansion efforts. Crypto.com has a strong presence in “tier one” jurisdictions such as North America, Western Europe, the U.K. and Asia.

The exchange has been working on bolstering its South Korean presence since at least 2022 when it secured an Electronic Financial Transaction Act (EFTA) and Virtual Asset Services provider (VASP) registration in the country.

Related: Crypto.com president talks up MiCA, allowing exchanges to expand across Europe

South Korea tightens regulatory crypto oversight

The expansion comes despite tightening regulations for crypto exchanges and company executives in the country

South Korea’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) announced a tightening of regulatory measures for crypto exchanges in the country, including the possibility of expelling platforms that are deemed “unsuitable,” according to a Feb. 12 report.

South Korea’s rising crypto generation. Source: YouTube

The FIU also aims to expand the scope of screening procedures in the crypto market and prevent unfit exchanges from entering the economy.

Earlier in February, South Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) proposed a new amendment that would mandate new crypto firm executives to obtain regulatory approval before assuming their roles.

If the amendment is accepted, new executives won’t be able to work until the FSC formally approves their applications.

Related: Upbit’s trading volume falls below $4B after reaching yearly high in March