South Korea’s FSS chief to discuss bitcoin ETFs with US SEC

Lee Bok-hyun, the head of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), said he plans to visit the US this year and meet with Gary Gensler, the chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to discuss issues related to the cryptocurrency industry, including spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), according to Hankyung on Monday.

Lee announced his 2024 work plan at the FSS office in Yeouido, Seoul, on February 5, and said he intends to visit major advanced financial markets such as New York in the second quarter and talk about measures to address the Korea discount, such as bitcoin spot ETFs and corporate value-up programs.

Lee Bok-hyun

Lee also said in a Q&A session with reporters at the scene, “There are areas where we can align our perspectives with Gary Gensler, the SEC chairman, on cryptocurrency issues, such as bitcoin spot ETFs. The SEC’s policy is important for the global impact right now.”

Bitcoin spot ETFs are investment products that track the price of bitcoin directly, rather than through derivatives such as futures or options. They are seen as a way to provide easier and safer access to bitcoin for retail and institutional investors, as well as to boost the liquidity and legitimacy of the cryptocurrency market.

However, the SEC has not approved any bitcoin spot ETFs so far, citing concerns over market manipulation, fraud, and investor protection. Several applications for bitcoin spot ETFs are currently pending before the SEC, and the agency has until late February to make a decision on some of them.

Lee’s visit to the US and his meeting with Gensler could signal a closer cooperation between the two countries on cryptocurrency regulation, as well as a potential breakthrough for the approval of bitcoin spot ETFs. South Korea is one of the largest cryptocurrency markets in the world, and the FSS is the main regulator of the sector in the country.

The FSS has recently introduced new rules to enhance the transparency and compliance of cryptocurrency exchanges, such as requiring them to register with the authorities and partner with banks to provide real-name accounts for their customers. The FSS has also been cracking down on illegal activities involving cryptocurrencies, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud.

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