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South Korea’s FSC to set up new department focused on fintech and cryptocurrencies

South Korea’s financial regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), is going to set up a department that will exclusively focus on policymaking initiatives related to the domestic fintech and cryptocurrency industry, according to the Korea Times.

In a press release dated July 17, the FSC revealed its plan to establish “Financial Innovation Bureau” as part of its effort to strengthen financial consumer protection and effectively respond to financial innovation resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Financial Innovation Bureau will be a temporary body with a two-year lifespan.

The Financial Innovation Bureau “is responsible for policies on financial innovation, promotion of innovative financial products and services, support for financial innovation industries and companies such as FinTech, management and supervision of related markets such as virtual currencies,” the FSC said (loosely translated).

An FSC official said, "The FSC plans a major organizational reshuffle to better protect financial consumers and proactively respond to financial innovation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution era.”

The announcement follows a recent report from the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in which it said that although crypto assets currently do not pose a material risk to global financial stability, it “recognises the need for vigilant monitoring in light of the speed of market developments.”

The view is shared by the Bank of Korea (BoK), which in a recent report had stated that the outstanding balance of virtual accounts in local banks stood at 2 trillion won (US$1.79 billion) as of December 2017. The central bank said:

“The amount of crypto-asset investment is not really big, compared with other equity markets, and local financial institutions' exposure to possible risks of digital assets is insignificant. Against this backdrop, we expect crypto-assets to have a limited impact on the South Korean financial market."

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