Nearly 2 million South Koreans have used cryptocurrency applications on their mobile phones in the last week, according to Yonhap news agency.
The information was provided by a company called WiseApp, an analytics company that offers a “predictive selling platform” for businesses. WiseApp estimates that 1.96 million people used the apps, compared with 140,000 in the first week of November – a rise of 1300%.
These figures highlight the popularity of cryptocurrency in the country. In December, it was reported by Business Korea that small investors now prefer to invest in cryptocurrency than in the stock market; Bithumb, the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, registered a 182% increase in transactions in 2017. In November, it was handling trading volumes of 52 billion USD.
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These figures are particularly noteworthy when we take into account that the government of South Korea has sometimes seemed to be doing its best to stamp out the industry in the country.
It banned ICOs in September, and at the beginning of the new year decided to ban anonymous transactions, which is one of the selling points of cryptocurrency. The government has also been carrying out inspections of banks that offer accounts to cryptocurrency exchanges, and surprise inspections of the exchanges themselves.
Its attitude has been very changeable. It announced in mid-December that it was going to allow Bitcoin exchanges (under strict conditions), but only a few days ago news broke that it was writing up legislation to ban cryptocurrency trading in the country entirely – Justice Minister Park Sang-Ki cited “great concerns regarding virtual currencies.”
The number of users on Chinese cryptocurrency exchange Binance grew by 44% following this last announcement, according to Yonhap. WiseApp also found that in the same week, membership of Coinpan, an online community for the sharing of information about Bitcoin, more than doubled.