Cryptocurrencies react to South Korea's bill to ban trading

Finance: Here's why cryptocurrencies are getting smoked on Monday

Bitcoin dropped sharply on the Bitstamp exchange, after South Korea's justice minister said a bill was being prepared to ban cryptocurrency trading.

The prospect of a ban on cryptocurrency trading by South Korea, among the largest venues for cryptocurrency trading, was playing on the minds of traders and investors this morning as the price of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies slid further. China moved to shut down exchanges within its borders and crack down on crypto-mining companies, while Vietnam implemented a total ban on crypto-based payments. Reuters reported soon after that the Justice Ministry had said that a bill was forthcoming. Bitcoin, for example, traded at US$17,028 and US$16,975.01, respectively, on Coinone and Bithumb, representing a premium of 27 per cent to the CoinDesk price index.

The country's government is looking to clamp down on cryptocurrencies following a boom in initial coin offerings (ICOs) and trading of cryptocurrencies in the country.

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

The government's announcement resulted in a selloff of the cryptocurrency on local as well exchanges overseas.

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According to CNBC, over $106 billion of value was wiped off the global cryptocurrency market on Thursday following news that South Korea may be preparing a band on all cryptocurrency trading. While investors and coinholders can get more money out of the virtual currency, it has brought increasing amounts of attention from authorities and regulators.

The 2nd largest virtual currency exchange in South Korea, Bithumb, was also raided on Wednesday, according to an official who asked to remain anonymous. The exchange disputed a Reuters report that its offices had been raided by tax and police agents. At the time of press, Bitcoin was trading for around $13,350, down from the valuation of roughly $15,000 preceding the revelation of the proposed bans. The officials reportedly visited their offices amid an investigation into alleged tax evasion.

Disclosure: The author owns small amounts of cryptocurrency, including bitcoin.

The financial authorities in the country had said previously that they were inspecting six local banks that offer virtual currency accounts to institutions over fears that increased use of these assets could lead to a surge in crime.

Politicians and central bankers around the world have warned that bitcoin and other digital currencies are extremely risky investments that have the potential to crash.

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