Mayor of Seoul Announces City Cryptocurrency

The South Korean capital will integrate blockchain technology into its municipal systems.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is to launch its own cryptocurrency, according to a a report from CoinDesk.

The plan was announced by city mayor Park Won-soon in an interview with CoinDesk Korea on the 30th of March.

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He said: “As Seoul is the world’s leading city in the field of information and communications, including the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I think we should study new technologies such as blockchains.”

He said that blockchain technology could be integrated into aspects of city life such as public transportation and welfare programmes for state employees.

Park added: “I’ve met blockchain companies, and I think our companies are not seeing the light because of the various regulations. Actually, [the] technology is as advanced as any other country. By creating clusters that will allow blockchain companies to build up, and startups to develop new technologies, we are working to develop and spread blockchain technology around the world.”

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Cryptocurrency regulation in South Korea is a mixed bag. The industry is massively popular amongst the people, with millions regularly using cryptocurrency applications on their mobile phones and the country estimated to be responsible for 20 percent of the world’s Bitcoin trading volumes.

The authorities have been slower to warm to it though, and the official approach has been haphazard. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon famously expressed his great personal concern over the popularity of Bitcoin last year, and the government banned ICOs in September 2017 and all anonymous transactions in January 2018.

At the same time, many South Korean banks have cryptocurrency-related accounts available to customers, and recent moves from locally-headquartered cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb have led to 50,000 hotels in the country now accepting a variety of cryptocurrencies as legitimate payment.

As Park said in the interview: “The last time the Ministry of Justice announced regulatory measures, there was tremendous resistance, and the government seemed to think deeply about it.”

Regarding Seoul specifically, the mayor’s comments today are part of a plan to integrate blockchain technology in the city, a plan which began in November 2017 with a partnership with Samsung SDS, according to CoinDesk.

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