Bithumb is South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange and also one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide in terms of trading volume. It was established in 2013 and is operated by BTC Korea.com Co. Ltd, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. The CEO of Bithumb is Kim Dae Shik.
According to its published audited accounts as of December 31, 2017, Bithumb held $6 billion worth of cryptocurrencies on behalf of its users, including $1 billion worth of Bitcoin (Bitcoin), $1.6 billion of Ripple (XRP/USD), $0.7 billion worth of QTUM, $0.65 billion worth of EOS (EOS/USD), $0.6 billion worth of Ethereum (ETH/USD), $0.5 billion worth of Bitcoin Cash (Bitcoin.Cash), and $0.3 billion of Bitcoin Gold. The exchange also held $0.4 billion in its own balance sheet.
Bithumb’s reported sales in 2017 were of 333.4 billion won, with the net income amounting to 427 billion won. Non-operating income produced an additional $90 million worth of revenue.
The report says that Bithumb accounts for a 75.7% share of South Korean Bitcoin market volume, and accounts for about 10% of the global Bitcoin trade. At the last count, the exchange was also responsible for about 50% of South Korea’s Ethereum trading.
Bithumb: Traded currencies
There is no crypto trading pair on Bithumb. Thus, trading occurs between cryptocurrency and flat currency. The exchange is known for its Korean won (KRW) trading pairs, most commonly with Bitcoin and Ethereum. Bithumb’s latest listed new cryptocurrencies are Zcash, OmiseGo, Kyber Network on its platform. Now it lists nine different cryptocurrencies for people to trade: Bitcoin (Bitcoin), Ethereum (ETH/USD), Ethereum Classic (ETC/USD), Dash (DASH/USD), Litecoin (LTC/USD), Bitcoin Cash (Bitcoin.Cash), Monero(XMR/USD), and Zcash (ZEC/USD).
David Lim, global business development manager at Bithumb, told Fortune that the exchange takes multiple factors into consideration when deciding whether to add a new cryptocurrency.
“Bithumb considers the coin’s security, technology, and investment worth when listing a coin. It will continuously introduce competitive coins in Korean market by studying their technology and considering the cryptocurrency market status,” Lim said.
It’s worth mentioning that the exchange platform also offers Bitcoin gift vouchers denominated in the equivalent value based on the current Korean won value with 10,000 won (about $9 USD) minimum value for each card.
Bithumb offers two types of accounts - general membership, and corporate membership. For general membership customers, they need to provide their name, email, and phone number, while corporate members will have to provide their business address as well.
In March 2018, Bithumb announced plans to launch a new service aimed at allowing customers to pay with cryptocurrencies at over 6,000 physical stores nationwide.
According to Korea Joongang Daily, the exchange teamed up with Korea Pay’s Service, which runs digital payment services and a mobile gift card platform to create a payment system to enable shoppers to pay with their cryptocurrencies offline.
Bithumb also announced plans to put kiosks in restaurants and cafes across South Korea, giving customers the option to pay for their food orders with cryptocurrency. For that purpose, the exchange partnered with three Korean kiosk manufacturers – Uno Space, TROS Systems, and IYU.
Customers are now able to pay with cryptocurrencies for over 50,000 accommodation facilities, including hotels, motels, inns, guest houses, and campers.
Bithumb is also looking to launch a crypto-payment platform aimed towards social media. Called SNS Pay, the platform will be based in a peer-to-peer (P2P) business model and will allow customers to make cryptocurrency purchases directly from their social media pages and chat apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, KakaoTalk, Naver Blogs and Pinterest – without having to navigate to separate e-commerce sites.
Major Bithumb hack
The cryptocurrency exchange suffered a major cyber-attack in June 2017, exposing personal information of 30,000 customers and resulting in the loss of billions of won from customers’ accounts.
According to BraveNewCoin, Bithumb said that an employee computer was compromised, rather than its core servers:
"The employee PC, not the head office server, was hacked. Personal information such as mobile phone and email address of some users were leaked. However, some customers were found to have been stolen from because of the disposable password used in electronic financial transactions."
Some Bithumb users were victims of "voice phishing," where someone called them up saying they worked for Bithumb and scammed them out of their funds.
ICO on the way
South Korea’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange is planning an ICO later this year to launch its own cryptocurrency. According to local media, the token sale will be administered in Singapore since ICOs are banned in South Korea. Two versions of the token, dubbed Bithumb Coin, will then be launched.
Newsbtc reports that according to the audit report of Financial Supervisory Service, Bithumb posted a 171% revenue growth in 2017. The net profit was approximate $400 million, and non-operating income amounted additional $90 million. The daily trading volume compiled $476 million which means an extremely high activity of virtual currencies trading in South Korea.