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Banks' crypto transaction fee revenues rise 140%

Upbit's digital board shows cryptocurrency prices. (Yonhap)
Upbit's digital board shows cryptocurrency prices. (Yonhap)


South Korea‘s banks saw a sharp increase in transaction fees from cryptocurrency exchanges in the second quarter, despite heavy fluctuation in the cryptocurrency market.

The three banks in partnership with cryptocurrency exchanges -- K bank, NH Nonghyup Bank, and Shinban Bank -- made a total of 16.9 billion won ($14.71 million) from the transaction fees of the four cryptocurrency exchanges they provide real name accounts for -- Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit -- according to data collected by Rep. Yun Chang-hyun of the People Power Party.

The figure is more than double the 7 billion won recorded in the first quarter, reflecting active transactions in the April-June period despite instability in the market that saw the price of Bitcoin fall from above 80 million won in April to below 40 million won in June.

In terms of each individual bank, K bank raked in 12 billion won in the second quarter from the partnership with Upbit, the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The figure compares to 5.2 billion won in the first quarter and helped Korea’s first Internet-only bank log a net profit for the first time since it was launched in 2017.

NH Nonghyup has partnerships with two virtual asset exchanges -- Bithumb and Coinone -- and combined earnings from the fees generated from transactions with these two exchanges were far less than that of the K bank and Upbit duo.

With Bithumb, NH Nonghyup logged 1.3 billion won in the first three months, while recording 3.1 billion won in the second quarter. The bank earned a total of 1.78 billion won during the two quarters from Coinone.

Shinhan Bank reported 175 million won in the first quarter and 343 million won in the next quarter from transactions with Korbit.

“Compared to the beginning of the year, the number of accounts has increased five-fold and the balance of deposits has quadrupled, and the coin craze has not yet ended, with Bitcoin prices recently surging again,” Yoon said.

The total amount of deposits in real name accounts used for cryptocurrency trading, which stood at 1.7 trillion won at the end of 2020, skyrocketed first to 5.9 trillion won by the end-March and then to 7.08 trillion won as of the end of June.

The number of real name accounts associated with virtual asset exchanges also showed a big jump from the 1.33 million accounts tallied as 2020 concluded, to the 3.79 million at the end of March and then to the 6.76 million accounts recorded as June wrapped up.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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