South Korea’s government is to crack down on anonymous cryptocurrency trading later this month, in an attempt to stop virtual coins being used for money laundering.
The move comes as Bitcoin slumped 20% last week to a four-week low on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, driven in part by worries about a ban on trading in South Korea.
The move will see anonymous trading banned, and traders forced to link crypto trading accounts to bank accounts in their real names.
Governments around the world have called for increased regulation of cryptocurrency amid fears the currencies could be used for money laundering and tax evasion.
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In South Korea, where cryptocurrency trading has become enormously popular, the government has said it is still considering an outright ban.
A government official told Reuters, ‘The government is still discussing whether an outright ban is needed or not, internally.’
Bitcoin mania swept the world in 2017, with the value of the currency rocketing by more than ten times during the course of the year.
But the cryptocurrency’s earliest fans – online criminals – are quietly abandoning the currency for more privacy-focused cryptocurrencies.
Law enforcement is now using tools developed by software firms such as Chainalysis to track Bitcoin transactions and block criminals converting their gains into cash.
The result is that criminals are moving to other, more privacy-focused currencies such as Monero – where transactions are much harder to track.