Bithumb Rockets to All-Time High in Korea: Claims 72% Market Share Over Upbit

South Korea’s crypto landscape was dominated by Upbit for the longest time. However, there seems to be a shift underway as Bithumb gains momentum, gradually capturing Upbit’s market dominance.

The latest development surfaces amid intensifying crypto trading activity in South Korea, particularly with the surge in Bitcoin trading.

Bithumb’s Market Share Peaks at 72%

Crypto trading activity in South Korea has seen a notable increase, particularly in light of the broader market rebound. Upbit and Bithumb, the top exchanges in the country, both saw their trading volumes peak during the first week of January 2024. These exchanges have been locked in intense competition with each other.

Recent findings from Kaiko suggest that Bithumb briefly reached an all-time high market share of 72% in early February compared to its main competitor, Upbit.

#Bithumb market share of volume relative to its main rival #Upbit briefly hit an all-time high of 72% in early February amid surging BTC trading.🚀

— Kaiko (@KaikoData) February 16, 2024

In January, Bithumb emerged as the leader in crypto trading in the country, with its Bitcoin volume nearing $3 billion, while Upbit’s volume stayed below $1 billion. Bithumb’s strategy to strengthen its domestic market presence included being the first major Korean exchange to eliminate transaction fees for all supported digital assets.

Although this move briefly boosted Bithumb’s market share, it was not a sustained advantage as Upbit’s trading volume recovered shortly thereafter.

Bithumb is currently preparing to enter the KOSDAQ, South Korea’s equivalent of the Nasdaq in the United States, by the latter part of 2025. This step would mark it as the first digital asset company to undergo the process of becoming publicly traded on the South Korean stock market. The exchange has reportedly roped in Samsung Securities as a potential underwriter for the process.

Setback For Bithumb’s Expansion

Despite the growth, Bithumb has witnessed its fair share of turmoil.

The crypto exchange failed to secure a deal with major local lender KB Kookmin Bank to establish real-name accounts for disclosed reasons. Bithumb Korea had aimed to establish a new partnership with KB Kookmin Bank to broaden its user base, as its existing contract with NH NongHyup Bank is set to expire on March 24.

According to the Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information, virtual asset exchanges in Korea are required to utilize real-name accounts for transactions involving the Korean won through commercial banks. Failing to comply with this requirement could potentially hinder Bithumb’s efforts to attract more traders.


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