South Korea’s largest crypto exchange Upbit is seeing its market dominance squeezed by intensifying competition from major local rivals like Bithumb.
Upbit’s Dominance Reverses
Upbit’s market share among South Korean crypto exchanges has fallen dramatically from 93% in June 2021 to under 62% by mid-December, according to [Daehan Kyungjae] (https://www.dnews.co.kr/uhtml/view.jsp?idxno=202312171430301830401). Meanwhile, Upbit’s main competitor Bithumb increased its market share from under 6% in June to almost 36.5% by December. Other local exchanges like Korbit, Coinone and Gopax have also gained significant ground.
Self-Regulation and Fiat Trading Permits
All five major South Korean crypto exchanges belong to the Digital Asset Exchange Association (DAXA), a self-regulatory body for the industry. Only DAXA members receive permits to offer trading with the Korean won.
Commission Fees and New Services
Upbit remains the only major exchange charging commissions on crypto trades. Commission fees are typically a major revenue source for domestic exchanges. Bithumb has offered commission-free trading across its entire portfolio since October indefinitely, according to [Business Post] (https://www.businesspost.co.kr/BP?command=article_view&num=336416). Competitors are launching other services like support for the stablecoin USDT to attract more users.
Tensions over WEMIX and Regulations
The altcoin WEMIX has become contentious among DAXA members, with Bithumb planning to relist it while Upbit remains the only member not announcing plans to relist. WeMade, a major South Korean gaming firm and WEMIX developer, accused DAXA of an “Upbit power play” after its delisting a year ago. A crypto investors group also reported Bithumb’s commission-free policy to regulators.
Despite tensions, DAXA announced cooperation with regulators to block unregistered crypto platforms. The South Korean government wants to balance investor protection and innovation in upcoming regulations, as [@cryptonews](https://twitter.com/cryptonews/status/1735242784104239192?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw) tweeted.
South Korean crypto exchanges face an intensifying competitive landscape as rivals pursue cost-cutting strategies and new offerings to gain market share from the dominant Upbit. Future regulations and the relisting of contentious altcoins like WEMIX will also shape the industry’s dynamics in the years ahead.