Bithumb Korea Reports Operational Losses Due to Declining Crypto Trading Volume

According to decenterBithumb Korea, the company behind the virtual asset exchange Bithumb, has reported a significant operational loss in the second quarter of 2023. According to the electronic disclosure system operated by the Financial Supervisory Service on August 16, Bithumb Korea recorded an operational loss of KRW 3.442 billion in the second quarter. This is in stark contrast to the profit of KRW 38.42 billion that was witnessed during the same time period the previous year.

Earnings for the corporation as a whole also went down, decreasing by 60% yearly to a total of KRW 31.993 billion. The net loss for the time was KRW 8.583 billion, which is much less than the loss of KRW 43.3 billion that occurred during the previous year.

Analysts attribute Bithumb’s deteriorating performance to the decrease in virtual asset trading volume, leading to a decline in fee-based income. The first quarter saw a bullish trend in virtual asset prices, but by the second quarter, prices stagnated below the $30,000 mark, causing a dampening of investor sentiment. While there were brief rebounds due to positive news such as major US asset managers applying for Bitcoin (BTC) ETF listings and Ripple (XRP) securing legal victories, these did not translate into sustained growth.

In response to the declining trading volumes, Bithumb has initiated a no-fee event for select virtual assets in a bid to boost activity. Currently, the exchange is not charging fees for transactions involving assets like Solana (SOL), Ethereum Classic (ETC), and Sandbox (SAND) among 30 other virtual assets. Bithumb stated, “The goal is to lower the barrier of entry for investors and increase new inflows to ensure liquidity. This no-fee zone event is the beginning, and we plan to introduce more proactive and diverse services.”

Bithumb Korea, established in 2014, has become a prominent virtual asset exchange on the global stage. With its deep expertise in virtual asset trading and blockchain technology, Bithumb is poised to shape the future of digital financing platforms worldwide. As per Coinmarketcap, Bithumb currently ranks 13th in terms of spot trading volume.

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Lee Jung-Hoon, Former Bithumb Chair Acquitted In First Instance

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The 34th Division of the Criminal Agreement of the Seoul Central District Court said on January 3 that it has found Lee Jung-hoon, the former chair of the cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb in South Korea, not guilty of the charges brought against him.

Due to allegations of fraud, Jung-Hoon was on trial for allegedly breaking the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes (Act on the Aggravated Punishment Of Specific Economic Crimes Act).

Since October 2018, when negotiations for the acquisition of Bithumb from Kim Byung-gun, chairman of the cosmetic surgery company BK Group, were taking place, the case has been ongoing. It is alleged that the former chairman defrauded Kim Byung-gun of 100 billion won ($70 million) during those negotiations.

Should Jung-hoon have been found guilty, the maximum term he might have received was eight years in prison.

According to the local press, in the formal answer that Bithumb provided to the judgement, the company stated that it respects the decision made by the court.

The conversation also made it clear that the company is managed by “professional management” and that the previous chairman is not involved in the day-to-day business activities.

After being accused of stock price manipulation and embezzlement, Bithumb’s largest shareholder executive, Park Mo, was discovered dead on December 30, almost a week before the decision was issued.

In August of 2022, courts in Singapore reached a verdict that found Byung-gun guilty of selling BXA tokens without first obtaining Jung-permission. hoon’s These recent events are a direct result of that verdict.

As a result of the verdict, he was required to hand up all of the money that he had made through the sale of BXA to the organization BTHMB, which is situated in Singapore.

Later on in the month of October 2022, Jung-hoon cited a mental health issue as the reason he was unable to attend a parliamentary session held during the upheaval that occurred inside the Terra environment.

In the wake of the failure of the Terra Luna cryptocurrency exchange, the South Korean government conducted a search warrant at many businesses, including Bithumb.


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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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Bithumb Suspends Cryptocurrency Withdrawals to Unverified Private Addresses

The South Korean digital asset exchange – Bithumb – informed its users that they will no longer be able to execute crypto withdrawals to unverified private wallets from January 27. The company’s new policy will also require additional Know Your Customer (KYC) identity verification.

Bithumb Tightens Security

In a January 24 announcement, the cryptocurrency platform Bithumb disclosed it had changed its service policy, and the pre-registration function is temporarily suspended. As a result, users cannot sign in with a personal wallet, and the company will approve only verified ones.

“Addresses owned by domestic exchanges and personal wallet address registration will be rejected,” Bithumb notified.

All clients of the exchange should validate their wallets according to the new rules by January 27. The company added that users with unverified addresses can withdraw “in the same way as before” until the enforcement date.

Additionally, Bithumb will implement new KYC identity verification. Evidence image upload guide remains mandatory for everyone. At the same time, a simultaneous photograph of the deposit wallet address and ID card will be further required.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the change of the withdrawal address pre-registration policy. Bithumb will always strive for convenient and safe transactions for our members,” the company said in conclusion.

At the end of 2021, Coinone – another major cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea – imposed similar legislation. Back then, the organization decided to discontinue withdrawals of digital assets to unverified external wallets. Coinone informed its clients that they should abide by the new rules by January 23, or otherwise it will halt unregistered addresses.


The Environment for Korean Exchanges

The Korean authorities have put local cryptocurrency trading venues under their scope last year and required them to register with the Financial Services Commission (FSC) until September 24, 2021.

The government asserted that if they continue operating without the necessary changes, they will be subject to penalties, including up to five years of imprisonment or a maximum fine of KRW50 million (around $42,000).

Shortly after that warning, 11 mid-sized digital asset exchanges in South Korea ceased their endeavors after the nation’s watchdog identified they operate their businesses illegally.

A few days before the deadline in September, more than 60 platforms said they could not meet up with the regulator’s requirements, and thus they would shut down.

In the aftermath, only 28 exchanges managed to obtain a green light from the FSC. Among them are the four biggest trading venues – Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit, and Upbit.


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Korean Bithumb exchange to launch NFT marketplace

South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb is developing an NFT marketplace with “a large company” thought to be LG CNS, a subsidiary of LG Corporation. 

Bithumb CEO Heo Baek-young confirmed in a Jan. 13 interview that the exchange was currently developing a nonfungible token (NFT) exchange which would help it stay competitive with Korbit and Upbit, two other domestic Korean exchanges. Heo said:

“An NFT marketplace will be important in promoting blockchain-based content, which will become a driving force in the future.”

There is no confirmation yet on the identity of the content creators or artists that have agreed to issue work in NFT form for Bithumb.

Several media outlets in South Korea have reported that the NFT marketplace is being developed in collaboration with tech giant LG CNS, but an official from Bithumb said on Jan. 17 that “it is impossible to confirm whether it is LG CNS and whether it is just them or a group of companies.”

Launching an NFT marketplace would help Bithumb remain competitive. Bithumb currently sits comfortably in second place among Korean exchanges ranked by trading volume. However, it is a distant second behind Upbit which boasts $1.7 billion in 24 hour trading volume compared to Bithumb’s $730 million.

Upbit launched its own NFT marketplace in Nov. 2021 with some fanfare as it was able to secure several K-pop groups including BTS to agree to commit exclusive NFT content.

The Korbit crypto exchange, which is owned by gaming giant Nexon, was South Korea’s first exchange to launch a NFT marketplace in June 2021. Korbit is Korea’s fourth-largest crypto exchange with about $7 million in 24-hour trading volume.

Related: An Indonesian 22-year-old makes $1M by selling NFT selfies on OpenSea

While global NFT traders tend to mint and trade on-chain on OpenSea, Korean traders tend to remain on centralized platforms. Despite the Klaytn blockchain being developed in South Korea and being just one of three platforms with native support on OpenSea, trading volume there has lagged behind Polygon and Ethereum-based marketplaces.