The week began with news that Twitter’s ban on cryptocurrency ads was taking effect immediately, affecting an industry already taking a hit in interest worldwide. Studies are showing that internet searches are on the decline. But things are looking a little more optimistic in areas like South Korea, which seems poised for growth. Indeed, it was announced that cryptocurrencies will be accepted in over 6,000 South Korean stores over the coming months.
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This week's tories contributed by Jeremy Epstein, Nick Marinoff and Amy Castor
Less than two weeks ago, the social media giant announced it was developing new policies which would lead to the eventual ban of cryptocurrency and ICO-related advertisements on its platform. That ban suddenly took effect on March 27.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of the Twitter community,” said a company representative. “As such, we have added a new policy for Twitter Ads related to cryptocurrency. Under this new policy, the advertisement of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token sales will be prohibited globally.”
Following a three-month period of drooping prices, it appears interest in bitcoin and digital currencies is falling to new lows, and the market value is sinking along with it. In addition, interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrency related jobs is generally on the decline, though blockchain gigs remain stable enough. Some regions, like India, on the other hand, are seeing job growth.
What we’re probably witnessing is a “shift” in interest, not necessarily a lack of regard for cryptocurrencies; instead, interest may be adapting as people learn more. Analysts are still predicting that overall interest in crypto could spike again later this year. Many remain bullish on virtual assets, particularly bitcoin, and suggest it could reach new price highs by the summer of 2018.
Bitfinex, the fifth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour trading volume, is looking to hoist itself out of Hong Kong and settle in Switzerland. As confirmed by sources close to Bitfinex, the exchange is already in talks with Swiss authorities.
Jean-Louis van der Velde, CEO at Bitfinex, hints that a move to Switzerland would bring a renewed transparency to the business. “We want to be the most transparent of all exchanges and meet the requirements of the Swiss regulator,” he said.
Korea has many of the pieces of the puzzle to become the first “Crypto-Powered Nation,” one that runs on blockchains and supports a crypto economy.
Cryptocurrency awareness and adoption are already widespread throughout the country. The end result is that the crypto-infrastructure is in place to handle a large number of customers and almost everyone there has heard of the concept.
The current government, led by President Moon Jae-in, relies heavily on the support of the young adult population. Not surprisingly, this is the same demographic that is highly invested in crypto-assets. As a result, the government is likely to support balanced regulation when it comes to cryptocurrencies. “The government needs the young people to stay in power, and young adults love crypto. They are not going to mess that up.”
Between the money coming in and going out, Korean exchanges and the network of providers that support them are seeing a huge amount of activity. The end result is that they are being forced to innovate on security and scaling solutions. The in-country knowledge could ultimately trickle down to benefit other South Korean companies in the blockchain industry. This, in turn, would give them a competitive advantage by allowing these companies to test and refine a lot of these systems at enterprise scale within the country.
Combine all that with an intense culture of achievement, a drive for economic success and an increasingly global outlook as the country has vaulted to become one of the top 10 economies worldwide, and you have the recipe for a powerful cycle of innovation.
Popular South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb is partnering with digital payment service provider Korea Pay Services (KPS) to pave the way for widespread digital asset adoption in the country. Both companies are working to give over 6,000 of the country’s retail outlets the option of accepting cryptocurrency payments for goods and services.
Executives say they are seeking to launch these new services by summer of 2018, then increase the number of stores to 8,000 by the year’s end.