A man walks past a digital board showing the ethereum price at Bithumb on Friday. (Yonhap)
South Korean’s frenzy for digital coins, especially alternative coins, has pushed the transaction volume for cryptocurrencies past 45 trillion won ($43.11 billion) in the 24 hours until Friday morning.
Cryptocurrency market tracker CoinMarketCap data showed that the four largest exchanges in South Korea traded a total of 44.97 trillion won including Upbit’s 39.38 trillion won.
The figure exceeds the combined trading volume of the country’s two stock markets Kospi and Kosdaq by far. On Thursday, the main Kospi recorded a transaction volume of 16.62 trillion won and Kosdaq 7.4 trillion won.
The explosive trading volume was backed by a spike in interest in altcoins, which refers to cryptocurrencies other than the largest Bitcoin.
Ethereum Classic soared 50 percent during 24 hours on Friday to as high as 170,000 won, skyrocketing from 17,740 won early in March while Bitcoin lingered below 70 million won. Many other altcoins including Quantum and EOS gained strongly. As of 2:11 PM on Friday, Quantum jumped 24 percent from a day ago to 37,500 won while EOS doubled in the past three days to as high to 14,290 won.
Ethereum, the second-largest digital currency by market cap, has been on a strong gaining momentum this week, following the news that the European Investment Bank plans to issue a digital bond worth 100 million euros ($120 million) on the Ethereum-backed blockchain network. Ethereum traded above 41 million won on Friday, rising from about 32 million won on Monday.
The popularity of altcoins appears to be higher in South Korea than overseas markets. According to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin transactions accounted 40 percent across the global exchanges it tracks on Friday morning, in South Korea, Bitcoin transactions took up only 7 percent during the same period.
The frenzy in the South Korean markets also contributed to the “Kimchi Premium” for cryptocurrenices, referring to higher prices of the same cryptocurrencies in the Korean market. The Kimchi Premium was as high as 20 percent last month. While one Bitcoin was sold at 81 million won on Bithumb on April 14, for instance, the same amount was traded at 71 million won on global exchange Binance.
Upbit, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country, issued warnings on its trading platform as the price difference between Upbit and the global market exceeded 5 percent.
By Park Ga-young (email@example.com