+ A

NPS is invested in bitcoin, says rep

Jan 29,2018
The National Pension Service, Korea’s largest institutional investor, reportedly invested in the controversial cryptocurrency exchange operators.

According to data acquired from the National Pension Service by Lee Chan-yeol, a lawmaker from the minor opposition People’s Party, the institution has invested about 2.6 billion won ($2.44 million) into the four companies that operate cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea through two venture capital funds.

The National Pension Service is the world’s third-largest pension fund, with 618 trillion won in assets.

In detail, the state-run pension fund reportedly invested about 1.24 billion won into Dunamu, a local fintech company and the operator of Kakao Stock, which runs Upbit, currently one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.

Other companies that the institution has invested in are Coinplug, Korbit and BTCKorea.com. Coinplug is a blockchain and fintech company that provides an array of services related to cryptocurrency trading. It also operates Coinplug Digital Asset Exchange, a bitcoin trading platform, while BTCKorea.com is the operator of Bithumb. Korbit is also a major exchange here.

The National Pension Service is not the only state-run institutional investor that made investments in cryptocurrency exchanges and related companies. Other state-run institutions that participated in the venture capital funds include Korea Post, the national postal service, and the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.

The discovery of state-run institutions investing substantial amounts into cryptocurrency companies comes amid significant disorder in the authorities’ attempts to regulate, and possibly ban, cryptocurrency trading in Korea.

“While the government calls digital currency investment gambling and tells the public to not invest, government agencies such as the National Pension Service are making indirect investments,” said Rep. Lee. “The cryptocurrency exchange investment by the government and public institutions could send a wrong signal.”

The National Pension Service, however, explained that their investments are being handled by fund managers and they have no influence over where they end up.

“Venture capital investment by the National Pension Service is done in the form of a trust fund,” explained an official.


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]