The South Korean crypto market is witnessing an extraordinary surge, with an anticipated 6 million crypto investors in the country by the first half of 2023, constituting over 10% of the nation’s total population. A recent report from Web3 market strategy consulting firm DeSpread sheds light on this remarkable growth, revealing a particular penchant for centralized exchanges (CEX).
Thriving Korean CEXs Amidst Global Decline
Despite a global downturn in cryptocurrency trading volume, South Korea’s major CEXs are thriving. In a notable feat, these four prominent Korean exchanges – Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit – collectively contribute 10% of the global trading volume. Surprisingly, this surpasses the trading volume of the world’s second-largest exchange, Coinbase.
Among these exchanges, Upbit stands out, consistently maintaining the top position. In February, it reached its zenith with an impressive trading volume of $36 billion, capturing an astounding 80% of the Korean crypto market. Bithumb is the second-largest player, accounting for 15% to 20% of the total trading volume. Coinone and Korbit, while smaller in market share, contribute significantly, with Coinone holding between 3% and 5%, and Korbit claiming a share of less than 1%.
Altcoin Frenzy in Korea
The report reveals a significant emphasis on altcoin trading in the Korean market, highlighting a stark contrast in investment preferences between Upbit and Coinbase users. While Coinbase attracts institutional investors who prioritize portfolio stability, Upbit’s trading volume predominantly depends on individual investors.
Specifically, Upbit‘s individual investors show a strong appetite for altcoins with high-profit potential, demonstrating a willingness to embrace associated risks. In contrast, Coinbase’s institutional investors favor higher proportions of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) trading.
Preferred Korean Cryptocurrencies
The report also delves into the specific cryptocurrencies favored by Korean investors. Loom Network ($LOOM) leads the pack with a 62% trading ratio, followed closely by eCash ($XEC) at 55% and Flow ($FLOW) at 43%. Stacks ($STX) and Bitcoin SV ($BSV) also make the cut, with ratios of 37% and 34%, respectively. South Korea’s dynamic crypto landscape and increasing investor interest suggest a promising future for the crypto market in the country.