2018-03-14 21:38
Ripple stresses 'thoughtful regulation'
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse responds to a question during a news conference held at the CONRAD Hotel, Yeouido, northern Seoul, Wednesday. Courtesy of Access Communication

By Kim Yoo-chul

Chief executive at Ripple, the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, said Wednesday that the Korean government needs to implement policy measures to regulate cryptocurrency trading, but “properly.”

“Having thoughtful regulations will help the industry mature,” Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said in a news conference at Yeouido, northern Seoul.

He said volatility in prices for cryptocurrencies is still being seen, globally. “This is a reflection of earlier stages of market growth,” said the top executive.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we will be continuing to need regulations to protect consumers and businesses,” the executive told reporters.

Garlinghouse said Korea has been a very “exciting market” in terms of its activity and volume growth and added the market for digital assets is now at a stage to seriously think about the following question, “What is real versus what is hype?”

Garlinghouse said he had meetings with existing and potential customers here and that the visiting Ripple team is having meetings with policymakers. He declined to elaborate further on his reasons for visiting Korea.

He said Ripple was planning to invest in startups and technology companies to develop more users for XRP, its popular crypto-asset; however, he declined to name any of the companies Ripple has in mind.

During the conference, Garlinghouse insisted that crypto-assets are solving real-world banking and remittance problems, and that future generations of what he calls “digital assets” will continue to improve the ability of making payments, especially cross-border payments.

“The (blockchain) industry still needs to mature because transforming the industry takes time. Ripple is focused on solving issues for cross-border payments. I think today’s legacy system is low and shockingly unreliable. The error rate is 6 percent,” he said.

Garlinghouse said Ripple is keen to see more XRP liquidity by expanding its partnership with cryptocurrency exchanges. “We will continue to invest lots of exchanges around the world to ensure lots of XRP liquidity,” he said. Ripple was rumored to have the so-called “coin-based” initial public offerings (IPO).

In a related note, Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Choi Jong-ku told reporters that the country’s top financial policy regulator was opposing moves by domestic firms to raise funds via overseas initial coin offerings (ICOs), which the FSC banned last year.

“Reports say Kakao, the operator of the country’s dominant messaging app of Kakao Talk, was planning to raise money via overseas ICOs; however, our internal checkup showed that Kakao has no plan about it,” Choi said in a media briefing house before the Ripple news conference.

Kakao, which in January raised over $1 billion for artificial intelligence (AI) investment, is reported to have interested in raising funds by pursuing an overseas ICO.

Korea didn’t enforce its ICO ban and Koreans still remained eligible to invest in foreign ICOs. FSC earlier said it has developed interest in the emerging blockchain-based technologies that support crypto transactions, prompting measures to turn earlier policies back from the crackdown on cryptocurrencies.

Korea is the world’s No. 3 cryptocurrency market in volume.