Bankman-Fried’s FTX In Advanced Talks to Acquire South Korea’s Bithumb

FTX, a global cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in the Bahamas, is in talks to acquire its rival Bithumb, South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal is already in an advanced stage, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the discussions are private. Its financial terms are yet to be disclosed.

Amid a series of recent deals, FTX is now talking to Bithumb about a potential acquisition. According to the report, the discussions have been ongoing for several months.

Bithumb has been looking for a buyer since 2018. In October 2018, BK Global Consortium, which is led by renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kim Byung Gun, was on track to acquire Bithumb for $354 million. But the deal was canceled in 2019 because BK chairman Kim Byung-Gun could not pay the whole amount.

In September 2020, Bithumb appointed accounting giant Samjong KPMG to be in charge of its sale, at a price tag of at least $430 million and up to $604 million.

In January last year, South Korean gaming giant Nexon was reportedly preparing to buy Bithumb, for around 500 billion won ($460 million). But Nexon later denied plans to acquire the exchange.

In March last year, US banking giant Morgan Stanley entered into negotiation to acquire Bithumb for up to $441 million. However, the deal never happened.

Meanwhile, FTX has been on the lookout to acquire firms that would help it get more users or regulatory licenses. it is a sign that the firm is big enough and well capitalized to splash the cash on acquisitions.

In 2020, FTX acquired the trading platform Blockfolio which helped it get more customers. In October last year, FTX.U.S acquired LedgerX, a futures exchange that had several licenses from regulators in the U.S. In May this year, FTX was looking to acquire brokerage startups to push further into stock trading.

FTX has been on a buying spree amid the ongoing market plunge. Early this month, Bankman-Fried said his firm has a few billion dollars that it is willing to use to bail out troubled crypto companies.

Earlier this month, FTX reached a deal with BlockFi, which allowed it to acquire the embattled crypto lender at a maximum price of $240 million.

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Nexo Hires Citigroup to Advise on Potential Acquisitions

Nexo, a crypto lending platform based in Switzerland, announced on Wednesday that it has tapped Citigroup to advise it on the potential acquisition of other crypto firms hit by the recent market downturn.

Antoni Trenchev, co-founder and Managing Partner of Nexo, said: “We have been approached by multiple Wall Street banks and decided to officially explore the opportunities for acquisition to help stabilize our nascent industry.”

Nexo said it hired the banking giant to explore strategic options, including a potential M&A deal within the crypto lending space.

The collaboration came as a result of a bid that saw the banker selected to serve as a financial advisor.

The partnership will enable the two firms to explore the best ways to protect retail investors in the current crypto market turbulence that exposed the cracks in the space, with several businesses staggering towards insolvency.

The lack of liquidity is on a clear display. Nexo feels having a “lender of last resort” – similar to that played by the Federal Reserve – would help crypto lenders and others in the blockchain industry.

Such “lender of last resort” would give room for solvent players to work towards mass consolidation via mergers and acquisitions (М&А), Nexo stated.

Investors Worried About Crypto Winter

The current crypto market conditions have caused lots of anxiety investors to rush for the exits while many firms feel the heat. On 13th June, prominent crypto lending firm Celsius Network froze all account withdrawals, transfers, and swap products citing “extreme market conditions.

A liquidity crisis at Celsius made investors worried about a wider contagion that could bring down other major participants in the market. Celsius was already feeling the pain after the collapse of the $60 billion stablecoin venture Terra. Celsius was an investor in Terra.

Two days later, Nexo announced plans to buyout Celsius, including assets “mostly or fully of collateralized loan receivables secured by corresponding collateral assets.”

Last week, the future of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital appeared hanging in the balance as the firm faced potential insolvency after being liquidated by its lenders. The current difficult crypto market fueled the hedge fund’s plunge. The demise of Terraform Labs’ Luna token the previous month also resulted in huge losses for Three Arrows Capital, which is a huge backer of the Seoul-based crypto company.

Many other crypto firms such as Coinbase, BlockFi and, recently froze hiring and announced job cuts as they reckon with a dramatic downturn in the market and heightened concerns about a weakening economy.

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Coinbase Acquires Mobile Wallet Company BRD

Key Takeaways

  • Coinbase has acquired the mobile wallet company BRD Wallet.
  • The team behind the wallet will join Coinbase Wallet to work on self-custody and Web3 integration.
  • Coinbase has acquired several other companies in recent months including Agara, Bison Trails, and Skew.

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Leading crypto exchange Coinbase has acquired the crypto wallet company BRD, according to statements from both firms.

BRD Team Will Join Coinbase Wallet

BRD announced today that its team will join Coinbase, where it will contribute to the company’s Coinbase Wallet. The app was originally launched in 2014 under the name “breadwallet” and achieved a userbase of 10 million.

BRD suggested that its own wallet will continue to operate normally for the time being and that users will be given the option to migrate to Coinbase Wallet in 2022.

The team behind BRD will join the team behind Coinbase Wallet. Coinbase noted that BRD “brings deep expertise in self-custody for crypto wallets” and that the acquisition is part of its goal of “doubling down on [its] investment in self-custody and Web3.”

It is unclear how the BRD team will change Coinbase’s wallet. Though BRD offers self-custody of crypto funds, Coinbase Wallet already supports this feature, unlike many other exchange wallets.

Coinbase Is On an Acquisitions Spree

BRD is the latest Coinbase buyout in a series of 18 acquisitions since 2018. Earlier this month, Coinbase acquired Indian AI customer support company Agara for over $40 million.

In recent months, Coinbase has also acquired the wallet interoperability company Zabo, the blockchain infrastructure firm Bison Trails, and the crypto data analytics company Skew.

Coinbase also controversially acquired Neutrino in 2019, a company that has been involved in government surveillance efforts for countries such as Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

In other news, footwear company Adidas also announced today that it has partnered with Coinbase but has revealed few details about its plans.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece held less than $100 of BTC, ETH, and altcoins.

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Bitso Buys Gibraltar-Based Crypto Derivatives Platform Quedex

Latin America-focused exchange Bitso has bought Quedex, a crypto derivatives trading platform, based and regulated in Gibraltar.

Bitso, backed by Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures and others, was in the news last December, having raised a whopping $62 million to help scale the business into new territories and clearly also to explore new products. 

The commercial terms of the Quedex acquisition were not made public, but Bitso CEO Daniel Vogel told CoinDesk it was a good fit for a number of reasons. 

Quedex was the first crypto derivatives platform to receive a license through Gibraltar’s digital asset regulatory framework, the same jurisdiction and regime that regulates Bitso, said Vogel. The Quedex acquisition also allows Bitso to get its hands on some nice cutting-edge tech, he added.

“As the industry grows and trading volumes increase, one of the big challenges is building really high-performance, low-latency trading engines, and the Quedex team has done that,” said Vogel in an interview. “So, the idea is to replace our entire trading infrastructure with Quedex’s trading infrastructure.”

As well as demand to move into territories like Brazil, customers of Mexico City-based Bitso have also been asking for more sophisticated products such as leveraged trading, crypto futures and options, Vogel said.

“We’ve only offered spot trading until now,” Vogel said. “What we see is that there’s been so much financial education that’s happened through crypto. A few years ago, clients were asking what’s the difference between a limit order and a market order. Today they are asking to trade futures and options on Bitso.”

Vogel explained that a team of 22 staffers, many of them Quedex engineers, would be overseeing the integration of the new trading engine technology. At the last count, Bitso had some 200 employees spread over 25 countries.

“That increased to 230 as of this morning,” said Vogel.



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Uphold to Launch Crypto Card in Europe After Optimus Acquisition

Digital finance platform Uphold says it has acquired card-issuer Optimus Cards UK, opening the door for the firm to roll out its own “crypto-enabled” debit card in Europe. 

Uphold announced the news Tuesday, saying its new acquisition comes with a full Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license from the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The firm plans to start rolling out its multi-asset debit card on the Optimus platform in Europe “shortly.”

CEO JP Thieriot said Uphold had had to pass the FCA’s rigorous “Change In Control” process for approval of firms seeking to acquire or increase control of another company.

“We’re very excited to get to work and help scale Optimus’s thriving EMD agency business, which already supports several major crypto and fintech ecosystems,” he said.

European Uphold customers will soon be able to receive part or all of their salary in bitcoin or other asset “and spend it using Uphold Cards issued through Optimus,” Thieriot added.

Uphold was founded by CNET founder Halsey Minor as Bitreserve in 2014. He left the firm in 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.



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Coinbase Buys Blockchain Infrastructure Startup Bison Trails

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced it’s buying blockchain infrastructure company Bison Trails.

Bison Trials, which builds cross-blockchain integration tools that link disparate protocols, will become a “foundational element” of the Coinbase product suite, the top U.S. exchange said in a Tuesday blog post. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Bison Trails did not immediately respond to a request comment.

This story will be updated.



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Argentina’s Ripio Acquires Second-Largest Crypto Exchange in Brazil

Argentina’s Ripio has acquired BitcoinTrade, the second-largest crypto exchange in Brazil, in a bid to increase its footprint across the frothy Latin American crypto market. 

Ripio (formerly called BitPagos) ended 2020 on a high, crossing the 1 million user milestone. Earlier last year, the firm began looking in earnest for a good fit in Brazil and decided on BitcoinTrade, said Ripio CEO and co-founder Sebastian Serrano. The financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

“Brazil has always been a very important market for us,” Serrano said in an interview. “BitcoinTrade has a very good reputation in the market, very good processes and compliance. It also has a very meaningful user base – about 300,000 users in Brazil – and very good volumes on the exchange.”

Serrano also pointed to BitcoinTrade’s well-established banking relationships in Brazil, which includes accounts with Santander, Banco Itaú and Banco do Brasil. 

Brazil has the largest GDP in Latin America and seems to be a highly desirable virgin territory among South American and Central American crypto exchanges. Last month, Mexico City-based crypto exchange Bitso raised a $62 million funding round, a chunk of which was earmarked for a Brazil push, the company said. 

“We have a very good relationship with Bitso,” said Serrano. “Bitso and ourselves are the two really well-funded companies with access to venture capital. There are no companies in that position in Brazil. But really I think the opportunity is about growing the entire Latin America market.”

The firm, which now has over 150 employees in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and Spain, has also raised capital from Draper Ventures, Pantera Capital and Digital Currency Group (which is also the owner of Coindesk). In terms of previous acquisitions, Ripio bought Unisend, another Latin American bitcoin exchange back in 2015.

BitcoinTrade founder Carlos Andre Montenegro will be stepping down from day-to-day duties of running an exchange to focus on running his family office. His role will be taken by Bernardo Teixeira, BitcoinTrade’s current CFO.

“We’re very excited and confident that Ripio is the best choice to help extend the path we’ve built with BitcoinTrade in Brazil,” Montenegro said in a statement.



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