South Korea banned ICOs in the local market in September last year to follow China’s footsteps. Companies are finding another route in the overseas but it presents its own challenges: it is costlier.
After South Korea prohibited ICOs in its local jurisdiction last year, then prohibited anonymous crypto trading January this year, ICO projects are finding a soft alternative. More are launching oversees and then listing on local exchanges as well as international exchanges.
While this may not be termed necessarily as “creeping back” since no regulation in South Korea bars local exchanges from listing international projects, it marks significant changes in the local markets. Of course, after the ban of ICOs in China, most companies did not die — they just found an alternative — which is mainly to relocate to overseas.
For China, cryptocurrency exchanges such as ZB.com run by Chinese chbtc.com opened international trading function in October after Chinese ICO ban. Huobi and OkCoin now allow customers to trade digital currencies against legal tenders of many other countries. Huobi said it was moving to Japan and Korea as did OKCoin, and BTCC. Some moved to Hong Kong, others to Singapore and others elsewhere. About 20 Chinese exchanges announced they would stop Chinese operations.
One such South Korean cryptocurrency project is Icon, which launched an ICO in Switzerland. It now lists in Bithumb and Upbit, South Korea’s major cryptocurrency exchanges, and started trading on March 21.
It poses as the Korea’s answer to Ethereum cryptocurrency. South Korea’s change of game on cryptocurrencies came without negative effects in addition to moving out. It almost wiped out a significant market — it is hard to imagine that everything before the regulation has remained the same to date. The South Korea investor by the name Choi Il-kyu said that the constant declining of markets in the past few months made him think of stopping investing in cryptocurrencies until he found Icon project.
This is not the only company from South Korea to launch an ICO overseas. Hyundai BS&C, an affiliate of Hyundai Group held an ICO for its Hdac token, in Switzerland.
Medibloc, a health information blockchain project, raised $21.2 million from venture capital and private funding. There is no doubt that more South Korean companies will launch ICOs overseas although those that have already done so reveal it is not easy. They spend a lot of money for legalization and regularization and employ workers overseas to stay afloat. They also travel to oversee these branches. Co-founder of Medibloc Lee Eun-sol, who is 33 years old, said all this makes it so inconvenient.
Cryptocurrency exchanges will also likely start witnessing similar projects according to co-chief of the Korea Blockchain Association Kim Haw-Joon.
This would reinvigorate trading.
South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service still requires companies to report on their overseas ICOs. It has no intention to more directly manage trading.