In a stunning reversal, Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has decided against launching its own token through ICO.

Last week it was widely reported that Bithumb, South Korea’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, was planning a token sale to take place in Singapore due to South Korea’s restriction on ICOs. Though few details were made available by the exchange, it was believed that the offering was targeting institutional investors and high net worth individuals.

However, local media is now reporting that Bithumb has cancelled the ICO as a “preemptive measure” against scammers, or those “who have malicious intentions against domestic investors”. However, it seems more likely that pressure from South Korean regulators forced the change.

South Korean authorities have an ambivalent relationship with cryptocurrency and ICOs, recognising their potential as a driver of economic growth but worried by their potential to destabilise the economy.

Rumours of an crypto exchange ban panicked markets worldwide earlier this year, though public outcry eventually caused the government to withdraw any such plans. ICOs, on the other hand, are prohibited in South Korea. Companies there are circumventing the law by conducting their offerings from other territories, usually Singapore or Hong Kong.

South Korean regulators were apparently most concerned about the potential for “internal price manipulation” if the exchange listed its own coin. When asked about the chances that South Korea might reverse its ICO ban, an official from the Financial Supervisory Commission answered that, “we do not intend to involve the virtual money market as an electronic financial institution in the future.”

Not everyone is convinced that an exchange as experienced as Bithumb would announce a real ICO then change its mind so quickly. The original announcement brought the company a lot of attention, which just might have been the intention all along.

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