Bithumb, South Korea’s first cryptocurrency exchange, plans to go public

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In a groundbreaking move, Bithumb, one of South Korea’s prominent cryptocurrency exchanges, has announced its plans to go public, setting its sights on becoming the first cryptocurrency exchange in the country to achieve this milestone. The decision comes as part of Bithumb’s strategic efforts to expand its market share, currently trailing behind its larger counterpart, Upbit.

Bithumb has chosen Samsung Securities to manage its initial public offering (IPO), with the aim of completing the process in the second half of 2025. While the company is primarily considering a listing on Korea’s second stock exchange, Kosdaq, it remains open to the possibility of being listed on the main Kospi market, signaling its commitment to establishing a solid presence in the financial landscape.

This move represents Bithumb’s first foray into the IPO arena, dispelling rumors from 2020 that the company was contemplating such a step. A Bithumb official clarified that the IPO is not driven by a need to raise funds but rather to bolster market trust in the operations of the cryptocurrency exchange. By subjecting itself to a verification process, Bithumb aims to showcase its commitment to corporate governance, management transparency, and robust internal control systems.

Bithumb’s proactive engagement with regulatory frameworks is highlighted as a crucial factor in building market trust. As the first cryptocurrency exchange in Korea to embark on such a regulatory journey, the company seeks to dispel doubts surrounding transparency in the cryptocurrency industry.

Industry insiders view this move as a strategic effort to narrow the gap with Upbit, which currently dominates the Korean market with an impressive 80 percent share. Bithumb, with a market share ranging between 15-20 percent, has implemented various measures, such as fee-free trading for all cryptocurrencies, to boost its market standing. The impact, however, has been limited, prompting the decision to go public as a key strategy for future growth.

As part of the IPO drive, Bithumb has witnessed significant changes in its leadership structure. Lee Jung-hoon, the former chairman of Bithumb and Bithumb Holdings, has returned to the board of Bithumb Holdings. Holding a substantial 73.56 percent stake in Bithumb, Lee is considered the de facto largest shareholder. Simultaneously, Lee Sang-jun, the former CEO of Bithumb Holdings, has stepped down amid accusations of accepting bribes from cryptocurrency companies for token listings on Bithumb. This move is interpreted as a proactive effort to minimize legal risks in preparation for the IPO.

The newly appointed CEO of Bithumb Holdings, Lee Jae-won, a close associate of Lee Jung-hoon, is expected to play a pivotal role in spearheading efforts for Bithumb’s successful IPO. With these strategic shifts in leadership and a commitment to regulatory compliance, Bithumb is poised to make history as it navigates the path to becoming the first publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea.

(Source: Song Seung-hyun | Korea Herald | CoinTelegraph | Crypto News |)

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