l South Korea's major exchanges are now operated by conglomerates
Late last week it was announced that a majority stake in South Korea’s largest crypto exchange has been sold to a consortium led by a plastic surgeon.
According to a Reuters report, 50 percent plus one share of Bithumb has been sold to Singapore-based BK Global Consortium for approximately $354 million. The exchange is one of Korea’s largest with a daily trade volume of over a billion dollars according to analytics website coinmarketcap.com. However, due to discrepancies in reporting it has been difficult to gauge true trade volume figures from crypto exchanges.
The consortium is led by Kim Byung-gun, plastic surgeon and blockchain platform investor. It has now become the largest stakeholder in the Korean crypto exchange. A consortium representative told media: “Kim Byung-gun demonstrated his multinational management ability in the field of medical care, fintech, and blockchain in Singapore. He is the right person to pursue the systemization and globalization of the virtual currency exchange.” Additionally, Kim has already announced plans to open ‘Bithumb Dex’, a decentralized exchange, through his Hong Kong subsidiary this month.
Bithumb, despite a number of security breaches and high profile hacks, has secured its position as one of South Korea’s leading crypto-currency exchanges, along with Upbit. Local crypto media have said South Korean investors are upbeat about the acquisition of Bithumb because it means that all of South Korea’s major exchanges are now operated by large-scale conglomerates.
This provides an extra layer of liquidity and security in what currently are very shaky market conditions. Upbit is run by Kakao, Korea’s largest internet conglomerate; the country’s largest commercial bank, Shinhan, runs Gopax; and Korbit is operated by Nexon, an international South Korean video game company.
One advantage that Korbit, Upbit, and Gopax exchanges hold over Bithumb is that they have never been hacked due to a focus on security and investor protection. South Korean conglomerates must strive to protect their brand and name to maintain consumer and investor loyalty. With BK getting into Bithumb the focus can now turn to security, legitimization, and internal system management, which is good news for investors.
Due to its ties with Singapore, BK is likely to be eyeing that market on the heels of Binance and Upbit which have already announced plans for expansion to the island nation. Stable banking services and a blockchain- and crypto-friendly environment makes Singapore a likely venue for Bithumb’s international expansion.
By Luke Thompson