S.Korea authorities discuss prospects for allowing spot bitcoin ETFs

FILE PHOTO: A bitcoin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean authorities are discussing whether to allow sales of spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the country, the financial watchdog chief said on Tuesday.

"Among authorities, I am one of those who are positive about virtual assets, while there are others who are wary, and we need to hear their opinions as well. We are internally discussing it," said Lee Bok-hyun, governor of the Financial Supervisory Service.

His comments were made in a radio interview in response to a question about authorities' views on spot bitcoin ETFs, which are currently not available to investors in South Korea.

In January, South Korea's financial authorities said it did not plan to regulate sales of bitcoin futures ETFs. However, it said brokerage sales of spot bitcoin ETFs could be in violation of the Capital Markets Act given the question of whether bitcoin qualifies to be an underlying asset.

Lee said he expects the public to have an opportunity to air their views regarding it after virtual assets are brought under regulatory control in the second half of the year.

(Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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