South Korea’s Jeju island is proposing a plan to become a blockchain haven wherein initial coin offerings (ICOs) would be allowed in the autonomous province despite the ongoing ban in the mainland.
According to a report by the JoongAng Daily on Monday, the governor of Jeju Island has formally proposed that the central government of South Korea designate the island as “a special zone for blockchain and cryptocurrency” in its interests to become a hub for the blockchain industry.
Jeju Island governor Won Hee-ryong notably made the proposal during a meeting with high-ranking government officials including Kim Dong-yeon – Korea’s finance minister and deputy prime minister for the economy as well as other policy makers last week.
The largest island off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island is also the country’s most popular holiday island. A little over 400 kilometers south of Seoul, the self-governing province sees a majority of domestic tourists as visitors.
Governor Won indicated that startups in Jeju would be free to hold ICOs in the island, making it an attractive destination for domestic startups seeking fundraising through cryptocurrency after South Korea’s financial watchdog issued a ban on the sector in September 2017.
“Entrepreneurs looking to innovate should be allowed to raise funds through cryptocurrency.”
Furthermore, the government official stated the need to “quickly allow blockchain and cryptocurrency” firms to operate without crippling restrictions “for Korea to become a leader rather than a consumer” in the nascent but “new global industry”.
“Blockchain can cut costs, provide stable transactions and essentially has the potential to become a game changer that could alter the ecosystem of the internet platform industry,” Won reportedly told policymakers during the meeting.
As CCN.com reported recently, Won has publicly expressed his intent to become a blockchain hub much like Malta, going so far as to receive $100 in bitcoin cash from crypto advocate Roger Ver.
It remains to be seen if the central government relaxes its stance on cryptocurrencies but the Jeju province has already benefitted from a largely hands-off approach by the center to encourage tourism and businesses flourish in the island.
The provincial government is also in the process of establishing a department “dedicated to developing the blockchain industry on the island,” an official reportedly stated, hinting it would “become more materialized by the end of this month.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers in South Korea’s mainland are also hastening legislation to regulate the cryptocurrency sector and overturn the current ban to effectively legalize ICOs.
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