S.Korea regulator says digital assets, virtual assets different

South Koreas top financial regulator the Financial Services Commission (FSC) said Wednesday that virtual assets or cryptocurrencies should not be termed digital assets, local news agency News1 reported, citing FSC documents.

The FSC presented its conclusion to the countrys unicameral legislature, the National Assembly, in a review of proposals for the upcoming Digital Asset Act that targets crypto investor protection.

The proposal for the Digital Asset Act recommended renaming virtual assets, which includes cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

But the FSC the term digital asset is an umbrella term encompassing virtual assets (cryptocurrencies) and central bank digital currency (CBDC), in line with the subcategorization used in the U.S. executive order that the Biden administration issued in March 2022.

The FSC also held off from defining NFTs as a part of virtual assets under the term digital assets, as the regulatory body says the proposal is missing a clear definition of NFTs.

See related article: S.Korea financial regulator restates support for blockchain, crypto protections

Currently, various financial hubs around the world have their own definitions of digital assets as there is no universally-agreed term.

Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said a digital asset is anything of value whose ownership is represented in a digital or computerized form, and it is referred to as crypto assets when deployed on the blockchain.

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) uses virtual assets to cover digital representations of value which may be in the form of digital tokens, any other virtual commodities, crypto assets or other assets of essentially the same nature.

Fabian Astic, global head of DeFi (decentralized finance) and Digital Assets at Moodys Investors Service, categorized digital finance as finance that is enabled by new technologies like blockchain. 

Crypto finance and cryptocurrencies are not the same as broader digital finance. They are just a subset of digital finance, Astic said in an interview with Forkast

See related article: S.Korea sees passing crypto investor protection as a priority: report

South Koreas President Yoon Suk-yeol in May began to establish the Digital Asset Basic Act, an all-encompassing regulatory framework on digital assets. Since May, the crypto market has experienced multiple fallouts such as the Terra-LUNA collapse, Three Arrows Capitals insolvency and FTX.coms bankruptcy.

South Korean regulators and lawmakers aim to enact the Digital Asset Act within this year. The Act is considered a subset of the Digital Asset Basic Act that strengthens protection for crypto users and tightens rules for service providers.

The National Assembly discussion on the Digital Asset Act proposal is scheduled for Nov. 29, according to local media reports.