SEOUL : BITCOIN AND OTHER  virtual currencies have been extremely popular in South Korea, drawing  wide investments from housewives and Students.

Government officials have expressed concern over  frenzied speculation, which South Korea's  central bank chief warning of ''irrational exuberance'' in trading of virtual currency.

South Korean financial authorities on Monday said they were inspecting six local banks that offer-

Virtual currency accounts to institutions, amid concerns the increasing use of such assets could lead to a surge in crime.

The joint inspection by the  Financial Services Commission [FSC] and Financial Supervisory Service  [FSS]  will check if banks are adhering to anti-money laundering rules and-

Using real names for accounts, FSC Chairman Choi Jong Ku told a press conference.

The  six banks named by the regulator have all provided virtual currency accounts to clients that handle cryptocurrencies, according to FSC.

The banks are NH Bank,  Industrial Bank of  Korea, Shinhan Bank, Kookman Bank, Worri Bank and  Korea Development Bank.

Choi said the inspections are intended to provide guidance to banks and are not the result of any wrongdoing.

''Virtual currency is currently unable to function as a means of payment and it is being used for illegal purposes like money laundering, scams and fraudulent investor operations,'' said Choi.


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