South Korean Crypto Exchanges See a Rise in Competition Due to Fee Wars


South Korea’s leading exchange, Upbit, controls 82% of the market. Introducing zero-fee initiatives in 2023 were Bithumb and Korbit.

According to a survey by Kaiko Research, the biggest platforms in South Korea’s crypto exchanges are competing for dominance via a fee war.

In the research, Kaiko claimed that Upbit has been the dominant exchange in the South Korean market since 2021, with a three-year average market share of 82%. Having said that, the research did reveal that competition has intensified due to the recent spike in digital asset prices. Two legal South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, Bithumb and Korbit, launched zero-fee campaigns in 2023 to entice investors in the nation, leading to the heightened rivalry. The report went on to say:

In contrast to Bithumb, whose market share trebled in the months after its zero-fee policy launch in October 2023, Korbit’s market share remained relatively flat throughout 2024, averaging less than 1%.

According to Kaiko, “may have forced the exchange to stop its zero-fee program on February 5, barely five months after its inception.” This follows a 60% drop in yearly income for the digital asset trading platform Bithumb in 2023, despite an increase in trading volume. In addition, Kaiko included:

Korean market transaction volume reached a two-year high in early March, thanks to a strengthening macroeconomic climate and intense rivalry among Korean exchanges.

The research highlighted that, due to the zero-fee strategies used by the exchanges, the total trading volume of the South Korean Won (KRW) in the first quarter of 2024 exceeded that of the United States Dollar (USD). 

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