The Korea Herald


Korean crypto exchanges ride on bitcoin rally

By Im Eun-byel

Published : March 1, 2024 - 17:09

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Local crypto exchanges are enjoying a boom in their returns amid the snowballing bitcoin rally.

Upbit, the largest crypto exchange here, saw its transaction volume in the past 24 hours surpass 12 trillion won ($8.9 billion) as of Thursday at 3 p.m. It was the first time for the figure to go over 10 trillion won since 2021. As of Friday 2:15 p.m., its transaction volume in the past 24 hours stood at 9.96 trillion won.

The volume is similar in size to the average daily transaction volume for Kospi, Korea’s main benchmark, which falls around 10 trillion won.

Considering Upbit charges a 0.05 percent commission, it is assessed to have racked up more than 6 billion won in revenue in the past 24 hours.

With customers lining up, Upbit’s partnering lender K Bank, which provides real-name accounts to the crypto exchange, experienced a server slowdown Thursday. To purchase bitcoin on Upbit, a user must make a deposit at K Bank and transfer the amount to Upbit.

Bithumb, another crypto exchange here, saw transactions worth 3.41 trillion won in the past 24 hours as of 2:15 p.m. Considering it charges a 0.04 percent commission for transactions, the exchange made roughly 1.4 billion won in a day.

According to crypto intelligence platform Coin Gecko, Upbit takes up roughly 70 percent of the local market share, followed by Bithumb at 25 percent. The two exchanges are the top two players here.

While the price of bitcoin traded in Korea surged to its highest ever of 90 million won Thursday, it slightly inched down on the following day.

The cryptocurrency was traded at 86.61 million won on Upbit and at 86.39 million won on Bithumb as of 2:15 p.m.

With the strong inflow of spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds leading to a price sharp surge of bitcoin, expectations are gathering on the launch of spot ETF products linked to ethereum.

At least 10 financial services including BlackRock and Fidelity Investments have submitted ethereum ETF applications to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC is expected to announce its stance on May 23.

Yet, despite Korea’s fervent interest in crypto, spot bitcoin ETFs remain off-limits for Korean investors. In January, local authorities announced the trading of related products for local securities firms could be considered illegal, shortly after the US SEC authorized the financial product.