South Korea e-commerce giant to add 12 cryptocurrencies with Bithumb

A new partnership, between major e-commerce platform, WeMakePrice, and exchange, Bithumb, marks a prominent step in the cryptocurrency adoption in South Korea.
Apart from its government's recent crackdown on cryptocurrency trading, South Korea has taken a notable step forward in cryptocurrency adoption, after the major e-commerce platform, WeMakePrice, announced it will start accepting cryptocurrency payments.

The move, which will see WeMakePrice accept no fewer than 12 cryptocurrencies, comes via a partnership with Bithumb, one of the world’s largest exchanges by volume.

Speaking to local news media outlet Yonhap News Agency, officials from the site said it was concern for the convenience of payment for customers that drew them to cryptocurrency.

“The two companies reportedly plan to complete the system and create actual services as soon as government policies and regulations on virtual currency are confirmed,” the publication reports.

Korea cements new crypto environment

South Korea is in the midst of significant regulatory upheaval, as authorities move to standardize and regulate both exchange and transactions involving bitcoin and altcoins.

December and January have been marked by confusing and contradictory statements from senior figures in government, consumers reacting angrily to threats of an outright ban, and cryptocurrency enthusiasts calling for the resignation of the ministers responsible.

Starting from January 30th, anonymous cryptocurrency trading will no longer be legal in South Korea, while exchanges themselves must pay a compound tax on earnings made in 2017 by the end of March. In addition, Seoul announced last week that it had fined six out of the ten inspected exchanges over lapse security setups, which were found to be violating the country's communications laws.

Despite the apparent chaos, WeMakePrice’s decision is an obvious boon for proponents of cryptocurrency in a country that was once considered the biggest trading market in the world by volume.

“We're integrating cryptocurrencies to eliminate intermediaries like credit card systems and allow consumers to transact directly,”  WeMakePrice's spokesman stated regarding the company's plans. The spokesman described the plans as “absolutely huge.”

Consumer adoption had previously failed to mirror South Korea’s exchange boom during the past two years. In contrast to neighboring Japan, where the use of crypto as a currency in consumer environments remains an emphasis, regulators followed China in banning ICOs and additionally barred bitcoin futures trading upon its US release in December.

This week, however, commentators fear the mood in Tokyo may turn more bearish at lay investor level. After major exchange Coincheck lost $534 million to hackers, suspicions may rise about the legitimacy of the country’s cryptocurrency ecosystem. The CEO of BitPoint Japan, Genki Oda, stated, “I have to admit that all cryptocurrencies will now be tainted in (consumers’) minds, so there may be a mid-term negative impact."