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Top Korean Banks To End Bitcoin Rewards Program Over Gov’t Concerns




In January, two leading South Korean banks will stop offering a service that allows customers to purchase bitcoin using credit card rewards points.

Two of South Korea's largest banks, Shinhan and KB Kookmin, will be concluding their partnership with the cryptocurrency exchange Coinplug, which currently allows customers who are participating in some of the banks' credit card rewards programs to trade the points that they've earned for bitcoin.

The banks decided to drop the services in anticipation of forthcoming government action on cryptocurrency trading, according to the Korea Times. The publication reported that on December 13, Choe Heung-sik, the governor of the South Korean Financial Supervisory Authority, warned that "The government's stance is prohibiting financial institutions from entering the virtual currency market or nurturing environments for trading."

The programs, Shinhan Card's "Fan Club" and KB Kookmin Card's "Liiv Mate," will end their cooperation with Coinplug on January 15 and January 22, 2018, respectively.

Shinhan's partnership with the exchange was not the financial group's first project at the nexus of credit cards and cryptocurrency trading. In September, some two months after partnering with the popular Korean exchange Bithumb, it stopped supporting credit card purchases of digital assets, as did Hyundai, Hana, BC, and Lotte.

Additionally, Woori Bank and the state-owned Korea Development Bank are preparing to close so-called virtual accounts belonging to cryptocurrency exchanges.

On December 20, various government agencies announced that the Fair Trade Commission would be conducting in-person visits to the thirteen "major" exchanges operating in the country, including Bithumb.

Adam Reese

Adam Reese is a Los Angeles-based writer interested in technology, domestic and international politics, social issues, infrastructure and the arts. Adam holds value in Ether, Bitcoin, and Monero.

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