The Korean crypto market is poised for a remarkable surge, with the number of crypto investors in South Korea expected to reach 6 million by the first half of 2023, accounting for over 10% of the nation’s total population. According to a Web3 market strategy consulting firm DeSpread report, most of these investors participate in centralized exchanges (CEX).
Despite a global decline in overall cryptocurrency trading volume, the major Korean CEXs are thriving. Compared to the world’s largest exchange, Binance, these four major Korean exchanges, namely Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit, collectively contribute 10% of the global trading volume, even surpassing the second-largest exchange, Coinbase.
The standout among the four major exchanges is Upbit, which has consistently held the top position. In February, it reached its peak with a trading volume of $36 billion, capturing 80% of the Korean crypto market.
Bithumb is the second-largest player in the market, accounting for 15% to 20% of the total trading volume. Coinone and Korbit have smaller market shares, with Coinone holding between 3% and 5% and Korbit claiming a share of less than 1%.
The report also revealed the reasons for the high proportion of altcoin trading in the Korean market, revealing a striking contrast in investment preferences between Upbit and Coinbase users. Unlike Coinbase, where institutional investors dominate, Upbit’s trading volume primarily relies on individual investors.
Specifically, many individual investors on Upbit demonstrate a keen interest in altcoins with high-profit potential, showing a willingness to embrace associated risks. In contrast, Coinbase’s institutional investors prioritize portfolio stability, leading to a relatively higher share of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) trading volumes.
The report also delves into the specific cryptocurrencies favored by Korean investors. Data indicates that Loom Network ($LOOM) dominated trading with a 62% ratio, closely followed by eCash ($XEC) at 55% and Flow ($FLOW) at 43%. Stacks ($STX) and Bitcoin SV ($BSV) also made the cut with ratios of 37% and 34%, respectively.
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