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Upbit cements market leadership in South Korea’s crypto trading scene

Aug. 29, 2021 - 14:56 By Byun Hye-jin
Cryptocurrency image (Yonhap)

Amid controversial regulatory efforts being made to keep cryptocurrency trading in order, Upbit appears to have solidified its leadership in the market.

Upbit retained its title as South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of cash parked, and the number of subscribers and transactions, data showed Sunday.

According to the data from Rep. Yoon Do-hyun of the People Power Party, a member of National Policy Committee, Upbit had 5.3 trillion won ($4.5 million) deposited its accounts, four times larger than three local rivals -- Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit -- combined.

The list showed Bithumb was second-largest, with over 1.3 trillion won in deposits. Total deposits made to Coinone and Korbit marked 248 billion won and 69 billion won, respectively.

The total number of Upbit users as of July was 4.7 million, 3.6 times more than Bithumb. It also had 8.6 times as many users as Coinone and 47 times more than Korbit.

Data showed Upbit and the three rivals attracted millions of new customers this year.

From April to July, the number of new users who opened accounts in Upbit was 1.8 million. Bithumb drew in 450,000 new users, while Coinone and Korbit each attracted 170,000 and 45,000 users in the same period.

While confirming its top position, Upbit said it would go its own way in complying with the “travel rule” as well.

The rule requires virtual asset service providers to establish a system able to make real-name verifications of senders’ identities for international transfers, by March 25.

Upbit originally planned to launch a joint venture to co-develop solutions for the travel rule with Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit. But the company left the venture on Aug. 18, saying it would create its own travel rule solution through in-house blockchain technology research arm Lambda256.

The data also showed that a growing number of Korean teenagers are jumping into virtual coin investment. As of July, a combined 4 billion won was deposited to the top four crypto exchanges under teen investors’ names. If adding the value of coins bought by them, the size of teen investments may go beyond the 4 billion won-mark, market insiders said, without suggesting an estimated figure.

Teens sold and bought coins around 1.9 million times between April and July. They made transactions 17.2 times per month on average.