South Korea announces new regulations to curb speculative cryptocurrency trading in the country. Photo Courtesy of Shutter Stock/Nata-Lia.
SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- South Korea will ban anonymous virtual currency trading and potentially close down cryptocurrency exchanges if necessary.
The government on Thursday announced a new set of measures to curb the frenzied trading of virtual currencies in the country, one of the biggest cryptocurrency markets in the world.
Around 2 million people in South Korea are estimated to own a form of digital currency, most notably Bitcoin, which is trading at a premium of roughly 20 percent in the country.
Warning that speculation in the market is "irrational" and "overheating," the government said investors will be banned from using anonymous accounts on exchanges.
Only those with verified accounts, confirming their age and residential status, will be permitted to trade digital currencies.
Following the announcement, the Financial Supervisory Commission ordered commercial banks to immediately stop issuing anonymous accounts, Yonhap reported.
The FSC also asked banks to strengthen measures to ensure accounts for utility payments and other basic financial uses cannot be misappropriated to invest in virtual currency.
The government announced it would strengthen its crackdown on market manipulation, money laundering and other financial crimes in the cryptocurrency market, JoongAng Ilbo reported.
It said further measures are being considered with "all policy options open," including the closure of virtual currency exchanges if needed.
Earlier this month, Seoul prohibited banks from dealing virtual currencies and hinted that the government could tax capital gains made on cryptocurrency trade.
After the new measures were announced, Bitcoin tumbled below $14,000, down 11 percent compared to the beginning of the day, according to CoinDesk.