Lawmakers call for blockchain regulations to be eased

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has recently ratcheted up calls for deregulation of the blockchain industry, as the financial regulator has adopted a conservative attitude toward the easing process due to procedural reasons.

While the ruling Democratic Party has focused on comprehensive deregulation guidelines, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party has criticized the Moon Jae-in administration for being heavy-handed over technological innovations. 

Concern has been rising here that the government’s conservative stance toward blockchain has hindered market growth. Initial coin offerings have been practically banned since 2017, when the government issued a warning against the overheated market.

“It is true that the Korean government has enacted strong regulations over the cryptocurrency market,” Rep. Min Byung-doo of the Democratic Party said Friday during the 2019 Deconomy Conference at the National Assembly.

“The government said it would lower regulation barriers, but cryptocurrency and blockchain are not subject (to such a move), which is a contradiction. It is now time to review previous regulations and ease them according to needs.”

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin attended a meeting with lawmakers in Seoul Friday. Yonhap

Min, who also serves as chairman of the parliamentary National Policy Committee, said he would propose deregulation to President Moon, adding that he has been consulting senior presidential aides over the matter.

The latest dispute surrouding deregulation involved the regulator’s refusal to include a blockchain-based money transfer service in the ICT regulatory sandbox, which offers regulatory exemptions for selected innovative industries.

Opposition lawmakers have criticized the Moon administration for neglecting its own policy initiative of innovative growth. They described blockchain technology is crucial in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.

Last week, Rep. Song Hee-gyoung of the Liberty Korea Party introduced a bill designed to provide comprehensive support for the blockchain industry, with measures ranging from protecting intellectual rights to offering tax benefits.

“Although many customers rely on blockchain for a technological breakthrough, they suffer from lack of systemic support,” said Song. “The government’s vision of promoting the blockchain industry is nothing but talk.”

(jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)

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