South Korea has witnessed a significant surge in crypto trading activity over the past month, with Bithumb taking the spotlight as its Bitcoin trading volume approaches an impressive $3 billion. This surge is noteworthy given that Bithumb introduced zero-fee trading several months ago, a move seen as an attempt to expand its market presence in a landscape dominated by Upbit.
Bithumb, once a major source of revenue through trading fees, made the strategic decision to eliminate transaction fees for all supported digital assets, starting in October of the previous year. Despite reporting an operating loss in the second quarter of that year, the exchange prioritized expanding its customer base over revenue collection. Investors took notice of this bold policy change.
While Bithumb briefly increased its market share, Upbit eventually regained its trading volume after a slight decline and maintained an 80% market share by the end of the year.
However, recent data indicates that Bithumb has surged ahead of Upbit in terms of Bitcoin trading volume in January, nearing $3 billion, while Upbit’s volume remained below $1 billion during the same period.
This increase in Bitcoin volume on Bithumb aligns with strong buying pressure from retail investors in South Korea, reflected in record-high Korean Premium values. Top cryptocurrency exchanges in the country experienced their highest trading volumes in the first week of January 2024.
Furthermore, Bithumb has announced plans to debut on KOSDAQ, South Korea’s equivalent of the Nasdaq, in late 2025. This move would make Bithumb the first digital asset company to undergo the process of becoming publicly traded on the South Korean stock market, despite no formal announcement, the selection of Samsung Securities as a potential underwriter strongly suggests progress toward the IPO process.