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监管趋严,韩国加密货币交易所大洗牌

监管趋严,韩国加密货币交易所大洗牌

Yvonne Lau 2021年09月24日
受加密货币行业快速增长的刺激,韩国加密货币丑闻的规模和发生频率都在不断提升。

随着加密货币交易所运营商竞相履行韩国金融监管机构的新法规,该国的大多数加密货币交易所有可能将于9月24日之前关闭。

在9月24日之前,所有在韩国运营的交易所必须获得金融和互联网监管机构的牌照。截至9月13日,仅有28家交易所(该国正在运营的共有63家)已经收到了来自于韩国互联网振兴院(Korea Internet and Security Agency)的认证,而该认证只是获得韩国金融服务委员会(Financial Services Commission)批准的第一步。该委员会称,有鉴于截止日期的临近,剩余的35家交易所拿到这一牌照的可能性不大。

位于中国香港的普华永道(PwC)的合伙人兼全球加密货币领导人亨利·阿尔斯拉尼安指出,多年来,全球加密货币行业一直在“呼吁出台明晰的监管框架。”阿尔斯拉尼安表示,很多加密货币领导人对直截了当的法规表示欢迎,因为“在灰色区域运营为业务操作带来了挑战,例如资金筹集和开设银行账户等等,同时也不符合公众的利益。”

然而,韩国超过半数加密货币交易所的火速关停可能会给加密货币寡头的崛起扫清障碍,有人称此举可能会伤害普通的投资者。

适者生存

韩国加密货币市场于2017年年底首次一飞冲天,当时比特币(Bitcoin)交易受到了各年龄段市民的疯狂追捧,他们希望通过这款数字货币价格的上涨大赚一笔。当时,韩国成为了全球第三大交易市场,仅次于美国和日本。加密货币市场自此之后与比特币的价格一样一直起起伏伏,然而在过去18个月中,新冠疫情导致全球出现了数字货币热,而韩国加密货币市场亦重新升温。韩国加密货币数据提供商 Coinhills公司称,在加密货币交易方面,韩元如今成为了全球第三大最常使用的货币,仅次于美元和欧元。

这段期间,年轻的散户帮助推动了韩国加密货币的狂热,因为房地产价格一直在上涨,但在竞争激烈的工作市场,其薪资却一直停滞不前。韩国国民议会政治事务委员会(South Korea National Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee)的成员尹斗贤(音译)在8月发布的数据显示,韩国约60%的新加密货币投资者都集中在20多岁和30多岁的年龄段。

首尔在最近几个月中也启动了对加密货币行业的管控,以打击非法活动,比如洗钱和逃税,以及监管方眼中年轻散户开展的高风险金融活动。2022年,政府还将征收加密货币资本利得税,在交易中盈利超过2135美元的投资者需上缴20%的税。

去年9月,韩国当局以欺诈指控为由,突袭检查了Bithumb与Coinbit的办公室,而这两家是韩国第二大和第三大交易所。Coinbit随后向CoinDesk透露,当前面临欺诈指控的公司前雇员实施了“洗白交易”,即通过创建虚假用户账户来进行交易,以推高交易所的交易量。在9月的突袭之后,韩国警察还调查了Bithumb的前任董事长李正勋,并收缴了其公司股份。当地媒体报道称,警察还对李正勋展开了第二次欺诈调查,原因在于此前有14名投资者在7月提交了另一份诉状。

监管方称,受加密货币行业快速增长的刺激,韩国加密货币丑闻的规模和发生频率都在不断提升。监管方称,加密货币欺诈报告在2020年增长了42%,而且除了Bithumb和Coinbit之外的多家加密货币交易所都遭到了欺诈指控。例如6月,警察以欺诈指控为由,逮捕了新近关停的交易所V Global的四位高管。当局称,该案涉及5.2万名受害者,损失超过了19亿美元。

除了新规定之外,政府将于9月新设加密货币管理局,隶属于韩国金融服务委员会,旨在监控韩国的数字资产。在整顿加密货币行业方面,韩国的监管方并非是在孤军作战:全球的监管方,从中国到美国,都因为一些同样的原因加强了管控,目的是为了阻止金融犯罪,并改善对投资者的保护。

于8月离任的韩国金融服务委员会前主席恩成洙一直都在公开地批评韩国的加密货币行业。恩成洙在4月称,加密货币“没有内在价值[而且]不是真实的货币。我会建议人们不要投资加密货币。考虑其较高的价格波动性,[加密货币]交易风险太高。”恩成洙的继任者高承范对加密货币行业持有同样的看法;高承范在8月拒绝了将加密货币作为合法金融资产的理念。

3月,在恩成洙的领导下,韩国金融服务委员会推出了新的规定,要求本国和国外加密货币交易所在向该委员会递交其申请之前,必须通过金融情报部门(Financial Intelligence Unit)的审核。为了获得韩国金融服务委员会的批准,加密货币平台必须要求用户注册其真实姓名和银行账户。为了符合反洗钱规定,各大平台还需要让其信息安全系统获得政府互联网监管机构的认证。

该规定迫使交易所与传统银行合作,而是否合作则由银行说了算。如果这些资金被用于金融犯罪,那么各大银行将承担这些风险,因此它们一直不愿意与规模较小的交易所合作,因为它们缺乏实施审慎反洗钱系统所需的资源。9月17日,第六大交易所火币韩国(Huobi Korea)宣布,因为无法与银行开展合作,它已经暂停了韩元交易。

仅有Upbit、Bithumb、Coinone和Korbit这四家韩国平台向韩国金融情报部门提交了注册材料,意味着它们已经获得了与银行的合作,以及来自于互联网监管方的认证。

一些人称,交易所的大规模关闭将给普通投资者带来伤害。高丽大学加密货币研究中心(Korea University’s Cryptocurrency Research Center)的一名教授兼负责人金炯中(音译)估计,大多数韩国的代币(除比特币外的其他加密货币)会因为交易所的关闭而消失,将导致投资者损失25亿美元的资产。韩国金融服务委员会敦促投资者在9月24日之前取出资产,并警告说这些资产在交易所关闭之后将无法恢复。

上周,一批中小规模交易所举办了联合新闻发布会,称这些规定将“催生不平衡的垄断现象”。当地媒体报道称,国会民主党议员卢雄来还警告说:“如果垄断市场出现,任何交易所就都可能会随意上市或下市代币,或提升交易费。”

其他人称,对交易所垄断的恐惧已经到了无以复加的地步。Eqonex销售负责人贾斯汀·德·安纳森指出,“海外所采用的集中式交易所模式,以及去中心化交易所的大幅增长意味着交易者手中的选择权正在不断增加,而不是减少。”他说,不断收紧的规定意味着仅有“在合规和准备方面有所欠缺”的平台将出局。

德·安纳森称:“这些规定将使加密货币空间合法化,并明确了参与者能够应付的行业实践。从长期来看,监管方的举措将对行业带来有利的影响。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

随着加密货币交易所运营商竞相履行韩国金融监管机构的新法规,该国的大多数加密货币交易所有可能将于9月24日之前关闭。

在9月24日之前,所有在韩国运营的交易所必须获得金融和互联网监管机构的牌照。截至9月13日,仅有28家交易所(该国正在运营的共有63家)已经收到了来自于韩国互联网振兴院(Korea Internet and Security Agency)的认证,而该认证只是获得韩国金融服务委员会(Financial Services Commission)批准的第一步。该委员会称,有鉴于截止日期的临近,剩余的35家交易所拿到这一牌照的可能性不大。

位于中国香港的普华永道(PwC)的合伙人兼全球加密货币领导人亨利·阿尔斯拉尼安指出,多年来,全球加密货币行业一直在“呼吁出台明晰的监管框架。”阿尔斯拉尼安表示,很多加密货币领导人对直截了当的法规表示欢迎,因为“在灰色区域运营为业务操作带来了挑战,例如资金筹集和开设银行账户等等,同时也不符合公众的利益。”

然而,韩国超过半数加密货币交易所的火速关停可能会给加密货币寡头的崛起扫清障碍,有人称此举可能会伤害普通的投资者。

适者生存

韩国加密货币市场于2017年年底首次一飞冲天,当时比特币(Bitcoin)交易受到了各年龄段市民的疯狂追捧,他们希望通过这款数字货币价格的上涨大赚一笔。当时,韩国成为了全球第三大交易市场,仅次于美国和日本。加密货币市场自此之后与比特币的价格一样一直起起伏伏,然而在过去18个月中,新冠疫情导致全球出现了数字货币热,而韩国加密货币市场亦重新升温。韩国加密货币数据提供商 Coinhills公司称,在加密货币交易方面,韩元如今成为了全球第三大最常使用的货币,仅次于美元和欧元。

这段期间,年轻的散户帮助推动了韩国加密货币的狂热,因为房地产价格一直在上涨,但在竞争激烈的工作市场,其薪资却一直停滞不前。韩国国民议会政治事务委员会(South Korea National Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee)的成员尹斗贤(音译)在8月发布的数据显示,韩国约60%的新加密货币投资者都集中在20多岁和30多岁的年龄段。

首尔在最近几个月中也启动了对加密货币行业的管控,以打击非法活动,比如洗钱和逃税,以及监管方眼中年轻散户开展的高风险金融活动。2022年,政府还将征收加密货币资本利得税,在交易中盈利超过2135美元的投资者需上缴20%的税。

去年9月,韩国当局以欺诈指控为由,突袭检查了Bithumb与Coinbit的办公室,而这两家是韩国第二大和第三大交易所。Coinbit随后向CoinDesk透露,当前面临欺诈指控的公司前雇员实施了“洗白交易”,即通过创建虚假用户账户来进行交易,以推高交易所的交易量。在9月的突袭之后,韩国警察还调查了Bithumb的前任董事长李正勋,并收缴了其公司股份。当地媒体报道称,警察还对李正勋展开了第二次欺诈调查,原因在于此前有14名投资者在7月提交了另一份诉状。

监管方称,受加密货币行业快速增长的刺激,韩国加密货币丑闻的规模和发生频率都在不断提升。监管方称,加密货币欺诈报告在2020年增长了42%,而且除了Bithumb和Coinbit之外的多家加密货币交易所都遭到了欺诈指控。例如6月,警察以欺诈指控为由,逮捕了新近关停的交易所V Global的四位高管。当局称,该案涉及5.2万名受害者,损失超过了19亿美元。

除了新规定之外,政府将于9月新设加密货币管理局,隶属于韩国金融服务委员会,旨在监控韩国的数字资产。在整顿加密货币行业方面,韩国的监管方并非是在孤军作战:全球的监管方,从中国到美国,都因为一些同样的原因加强了管控,目的是为了阻止金融犯罪,并改善对投资者的保护。

于8月离任的韩国金融服务委员会前主席恩成洙一直都在公开地批评韩国的加密货币行业。恩成洙在4月称,加密货币“没有内在价值[而且]不是真实的货币。我会建议人们不要投资加密货币。考虑其较高的价格波动性,[加密货币]交易风险太高。”恩成洙的继任者高承范对加密货币行业持有同样的看法;高承范在8月拒绝了将加密货币作为合法金融资产的理念。

3月,在恩成洙的领导下,韩国金融服务委员会推出了新的规定,要求本国和国外加密货币交易所在向该委员会递交其申请之前,必须通过金融情报部门(Financial Intelligence Unit)的审核。为了获得韩国金融服务委员会的批准,加密货币平台必须要求用户注册其真实姓名和银行账户。为了符合反洗钱规定,各大平台还需要让其信息安全系统获得政府互联网监管机构的认证。

该规定迫使交易所与传统银行合作,而是否合作则由银行说了算。如果这些资金被用于金融犯罪,那么各大银行将承担这些风险,因此它们一直不愿意与规模较小的交易所合作,因为它们缺乏实施审慎反洗钱系统所需的资源。9月17日,第六大交易所火币韩国(Huobi Korea)宣布,因为无法与银行开展合作,它已经暂停了韩元交易。

仅有Upbit、Bithumb、Coinone和Korbit这四家韩国平台向韩国金融情报部门提交了注册材料,意味着它们已经获得了与银行的合作,以及来自于互联网监管方的认证。

一些人称,交易所的大规模关闭将给普通投资者带来伤害。高丽大学加密货币研究中心(Korea University’s Cryptocurrency Research Center)的一名教授兼负责人金炯中(音译)估计,大多数韩国的代币(除比特币外的其他加密货币)会因为交易所的关闭而消失,将导致投资者损失25亿美元的资产。韩国金融服务委员会敦促投资者在9月24日之前取出资产,并警告说这些资产在交易所关闭之后将无法恢复。

上周,一批中小规模交易所举办了联合新闻发布会,称这些规定将“催生不平衡的垄断现象”。当地媒体报道称,国会民主党议员卢雄来还警告说:“如果垄断市场出现,任何交易所就都可能会随意上市或下市代币,或提升交易费。”

其他人称,对交易所垄断的恐惧已经到了无以复加的地步。Eqonex销售负责人贾斯汀·德·安纳森指出,“海外所采用的集中式交易所模式,以及去中心化交易所的大幅增长意味着交易者手中的选择权正在不断增加,而不是减少。”他说,不断收紧的规定意味着仅有“在合规和准备方面有所欠缺”的平台将出局。

德·安纳森称:“这些规定将使加密货币空间合法化,并明确了参与者能够应付的行业实践。从长期来看,监管方的举措将对行业带来有利的影响。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

The majority of South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchanges will likely shut down by September 24, as operators race to meet stringent new rules from the country’s financial watchdog.

By Sept. 24, all exchanges operating in South Korea must obtain licenses from financial and Internet regulators. As of September 13, only 28 exchanges—out of the 63 operating in-country—had received certification from the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA), the first step to obtaining final approval from the Financial Services Commission (FSC). The remaining 35 exchanges are unlikely to be able to comply given the looming deadline, says the FSC.

The crypto industry worldwide has for many years “lobbied to have clear regulatory frameworks,” says Henri Arslanian, partner and crypto leader at consultancy PwC based in Hong Kong. Many crypto leaders welcome straightforward rules because “operating in gray areas makes running the business challenging, from fundraising to opening bank accounts,” Arslanian notes. “It’s not in the best interest of the public, either.”

Still, the rapid-fire closure of over half of South Korea’s crypto exchanges could pave an easy path for crypto monopolies to emerge, which some say could harm ordinary investors.

Survival of the fittest

South Korea’s crypto market first surged in late 2017, when Bitcoin trading skyrocketed in popularity among ordinary citizens of all ages who looked to cash in on the digital currency’s rising price. The country became the world’s third-largest trading market behind the U.S. and Japan at the time. The market has fluctuated since then, alongside the price of Bitcoin, but in the past 18 months, South Korea’s crypto market has experienced a resurgence aligned with the pandemic-fueled global boom in digital currencies. The Korean won now ranks third worldwide behind the U.S. dollar and the euro as the most commonly used currency for trading Bitcoin, says Coinhills data.

Young retail traders, facing rising real estate prices and stagnating salaries in a competitive job market, helped fuel South Korea’s crypto frenzy this time around. For young investors, the crypto market provided easy access to trading and the prospect of quick gains. Around 60% of South Korea’s new crypto investors are in their twenties and thirties, according to data released in August from Yoon Doo-hyeon, a member of the South Korea National Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee.

Seoul in recent months has cranked up its control of the country’s cryptocurrency industry to rein in illicit activities such as money laundering and tax evasion, and what regulators view as risky financial activity among young retail traders. In 2022, the government will also introduce a crypto capital gains tax; investors who make over $2,135 in trading profit will face a 20% tariff.

Last September, state authorities raided the offices of Bithumb and Coinbit, the second- and third-largest exchanges in the country by trading volume, over fraud allegations. Coinbit later told CoinDesk that its former employees, now facing fraud charges, carried out “wash trading” by creating fake user accounts that made trades to inflate the exchange’s trading volumes. After the September raids, South Korean police also investigated Bithumb’s former chairman Lee Jung-hoon and seized his company shares. Police have opened a second fraud investigation into Lee after a group of 14 investors filed another complaint in July, according to local media reports.

Regulators say crypto scams in South Korea are becoming bigger and more frequent, aided by the industry’s rapid growth. Crypto fraud reports increased 42% in 2020, regulators say, and several crypto exchanges in addition to Bithumb and Coinbit have been accused of fraud. In June, for instance, police arrested four executives of now-defunct exchange V Global on fraud charges; authorities say the case involves 52,000 victims and losses in excess of $1.9 billion.

In addition to the new rules, the government is setting up a new crypto bureau in September that will operate under the FSC to supervise、 the country’s digital assets. South Korea’s regulators aren’t alone in their clampdown on the crypto industry: Regulators worldwide from China to the U.S. are seeking tighter control for some of the same reasons; to stop financial crimes and improve investor protection.

Former FSC chairman Eun Sung-soo, who stepped down in August, has been an outspoken critic of the South Korean crypto industry. Eun said in April that cryptocurrencies “have no intrinsic value…[and] are not a real currency. I would advise people not to invest in cryptocurrencies. It’s too risky to trade [cryptocurrencies] considering their high price volatility.” Eun’s successor, Koh Seung-beom, holds the same hawkish stance toward the crypto industry; Koh in August rejected the idea of cryptocurrencies as a legitimate financial asset.

In March the FSC, under Eun’s direction, introduced new rules stipulating that domestic and foreign crypto exchanges must be vetted by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) before their applications are passed on to the FSC. To win FSC approval, crypto platforms must require users to register using their real names and bank accounts. Platforms also need to meet anti–money laundering standards by having their information security systems certified by the government’s Internet watchdog.

The rules force the exchanges to partner with traditional banks, which have the final say in confirming the partnership. Banks bear the risk if the funds are used for financial crimes so they have been unwilling to partner with smaller exchanges that lack the resources to implement stringent anti–money laundering systems. On September 17, the sixth-largest exchange, Huobi Korea, announced that it had suspended Korean won trading owing to its inability to obtain a bank partnership.

Only four of South Korea’s platforms, Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit, have submitted their registrations to the FIU, meaning that they have secured both bank partnerships and certification from the Internet regulator.

Some say that the mass closure of exchanges penalizes ordinary investors. Most of South Korea’s alt-coins—cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin—will be lost via exchange closures, jeopardizing $2.5 billion of investor assets, according to estimates from Kim Hyoung-joong, a professor and head of Korea University’s Cryptocurrency Research Center. The FSC urged investors to withdraw assets ahead of the Sept. 24 deadline, warning that those assets could be irretrievable if an exchange shuts down. The FSC didn’t reply to Fortune’s request for comment.

Last week, a group of small and midsize exchanges held a joint press conference saying that the rules will “allow for a lopsided monopoly to emerge.” Noh Woong-rae, a Democratic Party member of parliament, also warned that “if a monopoly market emerges, any exchange could list or delist coins, or raise transaction fees at will,” according to local media reports.

Others say that fears of exchange monopolies are overblown. The abundance of “overseas options for centralized exchanges, and the massive growth of decentralized exchanges shows that the options offered to traders are increasing, not decreasing,” says Justin d’Anethan, head of sales at Eqonex. Tightened rules mean that only the “less compliant and less prepared” platforms will be killed off, he says.

“These regulations legitimize the crypto space and clarify industry practices for the participants that can cope,” says d’Anethan. “Long-term, the regulator’s efforts will be positive for the industry.”

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