South Korea stops short of allowing crypto in updated donation laws

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Digital currencies have been excluded from newly amended donation legislation in South Korea which could be a blow to the country’s charities and donation drives. 

On May 5, local media outlet Kyunghyang Shinmun reported that the Ministry of Public Administration stated that some amendments to South Korea’s “Donations Act” have been filed but restrict the use of crypto assets for donation.

Starting in July, those wishing to donate to charitable organizations or causes will be able to use various new methods such as department store gift vouchers, stocks, and loyalty points from Korean internet giant Naver, but not crypto assets such as Bitcoin (BTC).

The act on the collection and use of donated goods was first enacted in 2006 when there were fewer types of payment methods and smartphones were not widespread, it noted.

Methods of donation were also expanded from bank transfers and online methods to include automated response systems, postal services, and logistics services.

The Ministry didn’t provide reasoning for excluding digital asset donations despite their popularity in South Korea, however, the legislation is set to permit donations in local government-issued, KRW-pegged stablecoins and blockchain-issued gift vouchers.

More than $2 billion is estimated to have been donated globally using cryptocurrency as of January 2024, according to TheGivingBlock, a market that local charities would not be permitted to take. 

Source: TheGivingBlock

Meanwhile, across the pond, it was recently reported that more than half of American charities now accept donations in digital assets.

Related: Blockchain improves charity transparency — But is it right for everyone?

In late April it was reported that South Korea was aiming to promote its temporary crypto crime investigative unit into an official department to tackle increasing crypto-related crimes and financial fraud.

In related news, Singapore-based crypto exchange Crypto.com is struggling to find inroads into South Korean markets due to regulatory hurdles.

In April, Cointelegraph reported that South Korean authorities found Anti-Money Laundering (AML)-related problems in the data submitted by the exchange and launched an “emergency on-site inspection” to monitor its activities.

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