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Crypto.com to launch retail trading services in South Korea

Crypto.com is building on its OK-BIT acquisition to the enter South Korean crypto market.

The Crypto.com logo next to the South Korean flag representing the company's launch in the country's crypto market

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Global digital asset exchange Crypto.com is gearing up to launch its retail trading services in South Korea on April 29, according to an announcement made by the company on Tuesday. The move comes after Crypto.com’s acquisition of locally licensed crypto exchange OK-BIT in 2022, which is now winding down its services.

Eric Anziani, president and chief operating officer of Crypto.com, expressed excitement about the launch, stating:

“We are incredibly excited to be launching the Crypto.com App for retail users in South Korea — a market of tremendous importance to the growth of our business, and one in which consumers are very interested in crypto.”

According to Anziani, South Korean regulators are “thoughtfully advancing” the sector, providing players such as his firm with ways to enable and continue collaboration with the Korean domestic crypto industry.

Crypto.com’s Korean platform, dubbed Crypto.com App, will be subject to the strict regulations set out by local authorities for crypto exchanges. South Korea has one of the world’s largest and most active cryptocurrency markets. The country’s five fully licensed exchanges — Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit, and Gopax — have cumulatively processed nearly $3 billion worth of crypto transactions in the past 24 hours, according to data from CoinGecko. Earlier this year, at the height of bitcoin’s price rally, South Korea’s crypto trade volume briefly surpassed that of its stock market, highlighting the significant interest in cryptocurrencies among South Korean investors.

Notably, however, the service provided through this platform will only be limited to retail traders. This is due to domestic regulations on South Korea-based institutions which prohibit entities under this category from directly investing in crypto.

To minimize the risks of money laundering and market manipulation, South Korea mandates local crypto exchanges to acquire a bank partnership to offer fiat-to-crypto trading services. Exchanges without bank partnerships, such as OK-BIT, have been limited to offering crypto-to-crypto trading services.

Crypto.com has stated that its services will initially start as a crypto-to-crypto exchange, but the company will continue to make efforts to secure a local bank partnership to provide a full trading experience, according to South Korean news agency News1.

Meanwhile, Binance, another major player in the crypto space, entered the South Korean market last year by acquiring a majority stake in Gopax, one of South Korea’s five fully licensed exchanges. However, South Korean authorities have repeatedly postponed approving the structural change to Gopax, reportedly due to concerns over Binance’s legal issues in the United States.

In an effort to resolve local compliance issues, Binance has been reducing its shares in Gopax and stepping down from being its largest shareholder. Last week, Binance CEO Richard Teng visited South Korea to meet with financial regulators, as reported by local media.

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