Bithumb Steps up AML Policies, Bans Trading from 11 Countries

The major cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb no longer accepts clients from North Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu and Yemen.

by Nina Dimitrova
28 May • 2 mins
In News

Bithumb, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange that services clients globally, announced it is banning trading from 11 countries, due to the strengthening of its anti-money laundering (AML) policies.

According to an official announcement from May 27, as of Monday, Bithumb does not accept new clients form North Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu, and Yemen. Those who already have accounts, will see them disabled by June 21.

Those are countries placed on a blacklist of Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories (NCCT), compiled by the international inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It includes nations that are considered to not having taken sufficient measures to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other threats to the international financial system.

The measures are part of the strengthened AML policies and the implementation of government requirements and recommendations by the Korean Blockchain Industry Association – a local industry body.

At the end of 2017, after a lengthy saga of oscillating between a blanket ban on cryptocurrency trading and the introduction of strict measures, which rattled the cryptocurrency markets more than once, the South Korean government made up its mind. It introduced a set of requirements for the cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, mainly to prevent money laundering, funding of criminal activities, and tax evasion. At the end of January 2018, the South Korean watchdog, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), implemented a ban on anonymous trading, i.e. trading was allowed only from real-name bank accounts.

The Korean Blockchain Industry Association was set up by the major local market players partly in response to the government requirements, with the goal to introduce ethical conduct rules and prevent insider trading and market manipulations. Among its members are the major South Korean exchanges Bithumb, Coinone, Upbit and Korbit.

Bithumb consistently ranks among the largest cryptocurrency exchanges globally, despite its relatively small instrument portfolio compared to other major players. It supports fiat trading only for South Korean clients, but accepts clients globally. They can use the crypto-for-crypto trading option. The parent company BTC KoreaCom Corporation is also planning to launch another trading platform, called BithumbPRO, intended mainly for professional traders.