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South Korean Cryptocurrency Investors Face Fines for Anonymous Accounts

South Korean financial authorities said Sunday that cryptocurrency investors must convert anonymous virtual accounts to ones attached to their identity or face penalties.

The unnamed authorities said that cryptocurrency investors and traders will be allowed to convert their virtual accounts to real-name accounts before the end of January, but if this is not done, they will be fined, according to a Yonhap News report.

The amount of the penalty has not yet been finalized, the report indicates.

The news was announced as Korean banks move to phase out anonymous virtual currency accounts in line with the government’s stated plan to calm what it perceives as an overheated cryptocurrency market.

According to The Korea Times, however, Shinban Bank said Jan. 12 it does not intend to introduce an identity verification service for deposits and withdrawals from virtual bank accounts – effectively ruling out the opening of new virtual accounts, even with identification.

An official from Shinhan the Bank reportedly said:

“We’ve developed a system to introduce identifying virtual account customers in accordance with the government’s efforts to curb the cryptocurrency craze. However, we decided to scrap the service enabling the trade of digital tokens which has become a serious social issue.”

In other news, the Korean government again appears to be attempting to calm the markets after the justice minister aired a plan to to ban trading at cryptocurrency exchanges – a statement that send cryptocurrency prices sliding.

The Office for Government Policy Coordination said this morning: “The proposed shutdown of exchanges that the justice minister recently mentioned is one of the measures suggested by the justice ministry to curb speculation. A government-wide decision will be made in the future after sufficient consultation and coordination of opinions.”

The plan to halt trading has been met with opposition from both politicians and the country’s citizens, over 100,000 of whom have signed a petition demanding that the government step back from adopting the measure.

South Korea skyline image via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin Can Pay Your Traffic Fines in South Africa

A traffic fines administrator in South Africa has opened up the opportunity for their clients to pay outstanding fines in Bitcoin. The decision by Cornelia van Niekerk has been sparked by the massive mainstream drive Bitcoin recently felt, sparking many businesses into action to adopt.

However, her company, Fines4U, are not adopting Bitcoin in the more traditional sense which has been seen in Japan in the likes, there is no POS system or direct QR payments, rather, this is an attempt by a business to accumulate Bitcoin without direct investment.

Van Niekerk’s company represents a new wave of individual adoption where users are thinking out of the box in order to be a part of the cryptocurrency flood, hoping not to be left behind.

Fixing that fine

Fines4U operates as an intermediary which helps companies and individuals pay fines, accepting the money for the fine and making the payment to the government agency involved. Van Niekerk says she manages traffic fines for about 500 companies and about 8,000 individuals.

Van Niekerk decided, after entering the Bitcoin market in her personal capacity in June, to try and up the ante in order to accumulate more Bitcoin, allowing it to be a payment method for her services.

A different type of adoption

There was a time where, when Bitcoin was much closer aligned to being a digital currency, that adoption of the digital currency entailed POS systems being integrated into businesses and retailers. However, things are evolving as the currency heads towards being more of an asset.

Now, with the hype at an all-time high, and a wave of individual adoption occurring, those who have been dabbling in the digital currency want to take a bigger plunge. Van Niekerk’s plan is to accept Bitcoin, store it as an asset, and pay the fines as part of her service with the local currency taken from the business.

She will determine the outstanding amount of the client’s traffic fines, give them the amount in Bitcoin, valid for a limited period.

She will receive the payment via her own Luno wallet and deposit the fiat on behalf of the client for the payment of the fine.

Growing demand

When Van Niekerk made the announcement she said the response was overwhelming, but it was not that there was a flood of payments in Bitcoin, more a thirst for knowledge from her clients.

“I deal with many clients on a daily basis, many of whom are big businesses. Suddenly everybody wants to get more information from me about Bitcoin,” Van Niekerk said.

There is also a similar instance where a doctor in South Africa has been doing something similar, accepting Bitcoin for his services, and then depositing the money from his own pocket into the business.

He does not actively promote it as a payment method and has over the period had four to five clients paying him in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin as a payment method is dying

Despite more and more people trying to get involved with Bitcoin, doing what they can to receive it, Werner van Rooyen from South African Exchange Luno, says that the use of Bitcoin for payments is actually going down.

“Most people see it more as an asset class and if you really believe it’s an asset, you think it might be worth more in future, you don’t want to dispose of it,“ he explained.

He says the other reason for the relative decline in payments using Bitcoin is that “the Bitcoin network has more transactions and users than it can currently properly handle, so the cost of sending Bitcoin and making a payment has become slower and expensive to the point where it isn’t a viable method to pay for your cup of coffee.”