Cryptocurrency and its outlook in S. Korea

실생활 속 가상화폐 및 업계전망은?

Time now for our “Life & Info” segment… where we focus on information useful for your everyday life whether you are in Korea or somewhere else in the world.
Today, we are going to discuss cryptocurrencies.
You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, you might have heard of Ethereum,… but there are now thousands and thousands of them that you almost certainly haven’t heard of — some good, some bad, and some downright awful.
Bitcoin prices surpassed 5-thousand U.S. dollars recently…jumping to a five-month high.
We have our business correspondent Kim Hyesung in the studio.
So Hyesung, some of these virtual currencies are already being used in some of our day to day transactions. Tell us more.
Yeah Mark, it’s cyrpto time. A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that works peer-to-peer, enabling direct payments between individuals instead of having a bank as a third party.
Bitcoin, which created global phenomenon back in 2017 with prices skyrocketing to 20-thousand U.S. dollars, is one example.
Bitcoin prices are now lower than that, at around 5-thousand dollars. But still, cryptocurrencies are held by around three million Koreans, around six percent of total population, mostly those in their 20s and 30s and interestingly, there are a growing number of use cases… as cafes and more companies are accepting them as payment.
The footage we are looking at is a cafe in downtown Gangnam that opened last year.
Customers can use digital currencies to buy coffee.
So americano costs about 4 U.S. dollars, that’s zero-point-zero-two-two-five Ethereum when converted into the price of cryptocurrencies in real time.
The whole transaction takes less than two minutes.
Two minutes may sound like a long time, but it’s actually much shorter than the transaction time for credit cards, which takes days to be transferred from party A to party B.
“We accept five kinds of cyrptocurrencies, including Ethereum. Compared to credit cards, the remittance fee is much lower, and we plan to introduce more digital currencies into our server system.”
If I had some cryptocurrency, I’d like to try it out and grab a cup of coffee and some cake over a nice spring weekend…
Yeah, all you need toi do is to is download a digital wallet app on your smartphone. And it’s not just cafes or restaurants, there are now pharmacies and gas stations in Korea that accept cryptocurrencies.
According to CoinDuck, over hundred places across Korea accept Ethereum as a digital currency.
Using Coinmap, users can also look for places that accept Bitcoin.
Going online….Shinsegae Duty Free Shop started accepting digital currencies last month.
Travel website Expedia also accepts cryptocurrencies.
And guess what, Samsung Electronics has included a cryptocurrency wallet, called the Samsung Blockchain Wallet, in its new flagship phone, the Galaxy S10.
The wallet has its own blockchain keystore that enhances security….and lets owners store and make payments using digital currencies…basically expanding the mobile fintech business with crytpo.
This is big, one of the highest-profile mass-market crypto use cases yet..,given that Samsung sold 35 million units of its Galaxy S9.
“With the expansion of this blockchain technology, it becomes more important to use these services safely and more conveniently on the smartphone so we developed our feature to users use these services with Galaxy S10.”
Cool. A crypto wallet. So I see how digital currencies are going more mainstream. Are there any other global players also adopting crypto?
Remember, there are still many parts in the developing world where it’s hard for people to open bank accounts and buy things online. And the big players see digital currency as an answer to that, with a growth potential and many are joining the race.
JP Morgan Chase successfully tested its own digital token called JPM coin last February.
Facebook is reportedly working on its own digital currency to enable WhatsApp users send money instantly.
Industry experts say it could give Facebook a revenue boost of 19 billion U.S. dollars.
But then again, I have to emphasize, there are still a lot of technical issues and government regulations that need to be ironed out for digital currency to be adopted widely, given problems like its potential misuse for money laundering as well as security issues with a number of high-profile hacks on crypto exchanges.
The next step for crypto was a key discussion point at the annual Deconomy Forum in Seoul last week where engineers, experts and government officials gathered to talk about digital currency and blockchain technology
I got the chance to talk to many experts, including the founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin and founder of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

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