South Korea’s lawmakers have extended the parliamentary session into August to address a number of bills with ICOs high on the agenda according to BusinessKorea.
They say lawmakers will discuss the promotion of blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies as well as guidelines on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).
South Korea effectively banned ICOs in September, but pressure has been growing internally with a blockchain association that includes the former Prime Minister of South Korea stating earlier this month:
“Instead of welcoming the people’s fervor for the technology, the government is focused on controlling it to address negative short-term side effects. This is essentially kicking away the economic opportunities that lie in front of us.”
Won Hee-ryong, governor of Jeju Island, has requested the area of half a million people be designated as a special zone for blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies as well as ICOs with the aim of drastic deregulations.
A meeting was held with top policy makers, including South Korea’s Finance minister, to discuss the proposal. Parliament is to consider it too in this session. The governor said:
“Blockchain can cut costs, provide stable transactions and essentially has the potential to become a game changer that could alter the ecosystem of the internet platform industry.
For Korea to become a leader rather than a consumer of this new global industry, we need to quickly allow [the operation of] blockchain and cryptocurrency [firms].”
Speculation has been brewing for some time now that South Korea will u-turn on ICOs, with industry representatives there saying the country is losing money as companies go to Switzerland or Singapore to raise funds for token based projects.
“The South Korean government prohibited all types of ICO in September last year and has come up with no related policy since then,” an industry insider told BusinessKorea before adding:
“The entire industry is paying much attention to how its stance will change through various discussions in the National Assembly.”
More widely, Philippines is making a move, with an area there called the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport aiming to build the “Crypto Valley of Asia.”
The government there has designated $100 million towards this blockchain hub, with 25 companies committing to help build Asia’s Zug.
While Thailand has allowed ICOs up to $10,000, with Singapore and Hong Kong another hot spot trying to secure at least part of a billion dollars ICO pie.
Japan is another, with all of it adding pressure on South Korea to become more crypto friendly to entice new businesses or keep businesses there.
In China too something seems to be brewing, not at the government level but the general public there seems to be a bit hot on ethereum specifically.
They have been dominating Google Searches for Solidity now for months, with some of them employing ethereum’s capabilities in a very public manner by storing censored documents on its blockchain.
A u-turn from there thus might not be too far away as blockchain tech now reaches the level of being discussed in national parliaments.