S Korea plans to close cryptocurrency exchanges

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Added On January 13, 2018

South Korea's justice minister has warned the country could shut down cryptocurrency exchanges.
 
The news sent the price of bitcoin and other virtual units into a tailspin, dropping around 20 percent in just a few hours.
 
On Thursday, Justice Minister Park Sang-Ki said that a series of measures have failed to curb overheated virtual currency speculation in the country. 
 
With the currencies continuing to attract record amounts of real cash, the minister said it would now be, quote: "devastating if the bubble bursts".
 
The hyper-wired South Korea has emerged as a hotbed for cryptocurrency trading.
 
The country now accounts for about 20 percent of global bitcoin transactions, about 10 times the country's share of the world economy.
 
Park's remarks sent bitcoin prices plunging 18 percent on South Korean exchange Bithumb, while ethereum slumped 23 percent.
 
The warning comes amid a clampdown on digital currency trading in South Korea.
 
Bithumb, one of around 20 virtual currency exchanges in South Korea, was raided by tax authorities on Wednesday who inspected the company's documents.
 
Last month Seoul banned its financial firms from dealing in virtual currencies. 
 
Two weeks later it announced a ban on anonymous cryptocurrency accounts and a crackdown on money laundering activities using them.
 
US billionaire investor Warren Buffet told CNBC on Wednesday the global craze over bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would meet a "bad ending".
 
Bitcoin surged in value in 2017. From a low of around 750 US dollars in early January, it peaked at above 19,500 dollars in mid-December.
 
It has since tumbled again, being worth just over 13,000 dollars by Friday morning.