South Korea’s Woori and Shinhan banks have announced to introduce “crypto-asset services,” which means that four of the country’s top five banks, holding a combined value of more than $1.2 trillion in assets, are now poised to introduce crypto services.
It has been reported that each of the banks aim to hold and manage cryptocurrencies for clients.
However, both Shinhan and Woori banks announced their plans in direct response to the amended Special Financial Transactions Information Act that will change legislation around crypto assets, coming into force next year.
Previously, Shinhan bank announced plans for crypto storage in 2017, but these plans were thwarted by the government in January 2018.
As per the report, the NH Nonghyup Bank and Kookmin Bank have already coordinated blockchain teams to implement crypto custodial features, with Nonghyup the most advanced and hoping to launch services for “institutional investors” in the coming months.
Blockchain experts in the country have voiced concerns that these steps are “too little, too late” citing American institutions that are well ahead of South Korea’s banking sector.
Park Sung-joon, the Head of the Blockchain Research Center at Dongguk University, said that he was “worried” that the nation’s financial “competitiveness” could be in jeopardy as a result.
“Other countries are moving very quickly in this regard. But there is still no legal system in place in South Korea, so progress is slower than expected.”
Thus, he suggested that without “institutional support,” this push for crypto custody might not eventuate into widespread integration.