Bitcoin plummets on South Korea plan to ban trading

South Korean Cryptocurrency Mania: Exchanges are Adding More Employees Than Banks

That news from the justice minister comes after Coinone and Bithumb, two of the largest crypto exchanges in the country, were raided this week by police and tax agencies.

Any bill to ban trading would need to pass the National Assembly, a process that could take many months or years.

The price of bitcoin dropped sharply on Thursday after South Korea said it planned to ban trading in cryptocurrencies.

The theory is that the rumours are an FUD-missile meant to drive the price of BTC and other coins down so that crypto whales can buy them up at a "discount". The finance ministry also said earlier it was looking for ways to tax the cryptocurrency space that has grown exponentially as big as Seoul's small-cap Kosdaq index in terms of daily trading volume. For example, bitcoin traded at $17,169.65 per token at local exchange Bithumb, which was a 31 percent premium to the CoinDesk average price.

Bitcoin dropped as much as 12% to $12,801, before paring the loss to about 5% at 9.10am NY time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The dramatic market reaction led to the country's Presidential office to put out a statement saying that the ban on cryptocurrency trading had not been finalised and was still only being considered as a possible option. An official at South Korean exchange Coinone said that in addition to the raids, "local police also have been investigating our company since previous year".

The statement came after hundreds of apparent investors in virtual currency rushed to the website of Cheong Wa Dae, posting more than 1,000 petitions against a possible shutdown of cryptocurrency exchanges.

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The speculative trading on Korean exchanges has caused CoinMarketCap, a data compiler for cryptocurrencies, to exclude their prices.

A Chinese ban on virtual coin transactions in yuan ended up driving many investors underground, exposing them to greater risks, he said.

South Korea's regulators chimed in on the subject several times in the past few months, each time promising stricter regulation of the booming market.

Two people read tables displayed at Bithumb, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, in central Seoul on January 11, 2018. The officials reportedly visited their offices amid an investigation into alleged tax evasion.

The news wires will be the key driver through the day, though we will expect some of the market panic to subside, with Bitcoin Cash likely to find plenty of support at sub-$2,400 levels.

Bitcoin and others lost about 10% of their value on Thursday - but it is hard to gauge how much of that was the result of events in South Korea.

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