Bithumb, a popular crypto exchange, has announced plans to become the first digital asset company to go public on the South Korean stock market. According to the local news outlet Edaily, Bithumb is preparing for an initial public offering (IPO) on the KOSDAQ, South Korea’s equivalent of the United States Nasdaq. The expected listing date is set for sometime in the second half of 2025.
While Bithumb has yet to confirm the details of the IPO, the company admitted to selecting an underwriter, which is a company tasked with guaranteeing the financial security of another typically before a firm goes public. Bithumb has chosen Samsung Securities as its potential IPO underwriter, according to sources familiar with the matter.
In addition, Bithumb’s former chairman, Lee Jeong-hoon, has returned to the company as its registered director. Meanwhile, CEO Lee Sang-jun was excluded from a place on the board of directors due to an ongoing investigation into alleged bribery.
Reports suggest that Bithumb’s decision to go public is motivated by a desire to maintain and expand its market share, particularly in the face of competition from Upbit, the largest crypto exchange in South Korea.
As of the time of this report, Bithumb is the second largest crypto exchange in South Korea by daily trading volume, with Upbit holding a significant lead. In fact, Upbit’s monthly trading volumes surpassed that of Coinbase and Binance for the first time in July, further solidifying its position as the leading exchange in the country.
Both Upbit and Bithumb have faced unwanted attention in the past. In May, South Korean authorities raided their offices over allegedly fraudulent crypto trading on behalf of a local lawmaker. Similarly, in February, one of Bithumb’s largest shareholders, Kang Jong-hyun, was arrested on embezzlement charges following a police investigation into his allegedly illicit behavior. Jong-hyun is the elder brother of Kang Ji-yeon, the head of Bithumb affiliate Inbiogen, which holds the largest share in Vidente Vidente, the biggest Bithumb shareholder.
Bithumb was founded in 2014 and at the time of publication had a 24-hour trading volume of roughly $580 million, according to CoinGecko.
Considering Bithumb’s troubled history, the decision to go public marks a significant turning point for the company. The move not only indicates a desire to restore public trust but also signifies a new chapter for the company, allowing it to access additional resources and potential expansion opportunities.
Going public can provide Bithumb with the funds needed to invest in technology, expand its user base, and improve services in order to remain competitive in the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency. It would also allow the company to mitigate some of the risk traditionally associated with the crypto industry by offering stakeholders the opportunity to invest in a more regulated and transparent manner.
Furthermore, going public would demonstrate a level of maturity and stability for Bithumb, potentially attracting a wider range of investors and partners, and opening up new business opportunities. This could also open the door to additional strategic partnerships and collaborations in the financial and technology sectors.
Overall, the decision to go public on the South Korean stock market has far-reaching implications for Bithumb and the cryptocurrency industry as a whole. It represents a step forward in the evolution of the industry, highlighting the increasing influence and acceptance of digital assets in the traditional financial world. As the first digital asset company to go public in South Korea, Bithumb is poised to make history and set a precedent for others to follow.