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[Exclusive] Former Alipay Korea country manager to helm Bithumb: source

Industry expert Jung Won-shik to oversee Korea's largest cryptocurrency exchange, spotted meeting with Ethereum inventor in Gangnam, Seoul

Jung Won-shik, former country manager of Alipay Korea, has become the new chief executive of BTC Korea, the operator of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, a source familiar with the matter told The Korea Herald.

“(Jung) had been scouted as CEO of BTC Korea since Sept. 4,” said the source, who declined to be named. 

(Jung Won-shik)
(Jung Won-shik)
The source also said Jung’s arrival at BTC Korea was part of the company’s “first batch of a management team made up of key industry experts” in fields such as payment gateway, payment processing, system integrator, as well as personnel from a regulatory agency.

A BTC Korea spokesperson said that the change in leadership has not been confirmed internally.

Before serving as a country manager of Alibaba’s payment arm, Jung worked at several fintech firms dealing with products and service development in Asia. After working as a securities portfolio developer at Merrill Lynch in Wall Street until 1996, he took regional managerial roles in LG Uplus, Tellabs and Fujitsu, among others.

Jung, 46, has also been keeping an eye on the cryptocurrency industry. He attended The Virtual Currency Forum held on Sept. 14 by BTC Korea at the Korea Exchange Seoul office, according to the source.

Furthermore, Jung was spotted at InterContinental Seoul Coex on Sunday having a closed-door session with Vitalik Buterin, an inventor of the blockchain platform ethereum that provides the second-largest cryptocurrency in market cap ether. Buterin visited Korea to attend an ethereum meetup held in Seoul on Monday. 

(Son Ji-hyoung / The Korea Herald)
(Son Ji-hyoung / The Korea Herald)
(Son Ji-hyoung / The Korea Herald)
(Son Ji-hyoung / The Korea Herald)
Jung holds a master’s degree in business from Seoul National University.

Opened in January 2014 and led by BTC Korea’s CEO Kim Dae-shik, Bithumb has been Korea’s leading exchange of both bitcoins and ethereum tokens in terms of trade volume since March 2014. In June and July, cryptocurrencies worth over 11 trillion won ($9.7 billion) were traded on the exchange for a month.

Some 780,000 traders have used Bithumb to trade cryptocurrencies for over three years as of Aug. 8, according to BTC Korea.

The exchange, however, experienced an information leak of some 30,000 traders from an alleged hacker attack in June. Hundreds of victims were reportedly planning to file lawsuits against the firm in August.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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