As Digitex gears up for launch day, the demand keeps on rising for our category-breaking commission-free futures exchange! With almost 650K now signed up to our Early Access Waitlist and a ton of traffic coming from Asia, we decided to shine a light on the market conditions in the Far East–and what makes South Korea, in particular, an attractive market.
The Asian Market
When we talk about regions and their behavior, we often use sweeping statements like “the Asian market,” or “the European market,” as if they were a unified block. But when it comes to crypto, nothing could be further from the truth. Each country has its own set of habits, rules, and developments, that makes it favorable or bearish on crypto.
Even within the European Union where member countries are bound by certain common laws, there is no single policy on crypto. Estonia is widely known as the blockchain nation with E-residency and verified online identities. Switzerland is busy building a “Crypto Valley,” with financial regulators FINMA taking a flexible stance on ICOs (despite the banks not wanting to play ball). And Malta, well, it’s made its own historic regulation.
The same is true of Asia where reactions to cryptocurrency from country to country are not ubiquitous. China outright banned ICOs and followed up by banning cryptocurrencies completely and clamping down on bitcoin mining.
In Hong Kong, cryptocurrency is not illegal. However, the autonomous territory in southeastern China looks set to tighten its current cryptocurrency laws pretty soon. We’ve already seen plenty of projects head off-shore to crypto-friendly Singapore or even all the way to Malta–just think about Binance and OKEx.
In Japan and South Korea, both countries show a high level of user adoption. However, in terms of widespread use, South Korea seems to be pipping Japan to the post!
Cryptocurrencies are not illegal but they are regulated–all exchanges in these countries have to carry out KYC on their customers.
As Digitex is getting more and more interest from Asian countries like South Korea, we plan to take full advantage of this crypto market! We will begin by translating the website and newly launched exchange into Korean–and then look at Japanese, and maybe even Chinese as the markets unravel!
But for now, here are a few more reasons that make the South Korean market so attractive to Digitex as an exchange:
1. The People Are Crypto-Friendly
Ride a subway car in Seoul and you won’t see a single person staring into space. Each and every one of them is looking down intently at their smartphone. It’s impossible to think of South Korea without also thinking of high-tech. As the home of Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Team Liquid, that’s not really any surprise.
South Korea is an international technology incubator known for its tendency to be early adopters. This personality trait makes the Korean market a perfect choice for Digitex expansion. As we push the boundaries of what exchanges look like and offer commission-free futures trading, we expect demand here to be high.
Moreover, when something catches on in this part of the world, it tends to catch on big time! According to a report by Cindicator, this country will play a huge role in the mainstream adoption of crypto in part because of its crypto-friendly population.
With some of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges like Upbit and Bithumb from South Korea, its people have been using crypto for a while now. While it’s estimated that only about 8 percent of people in the US are cryptocurrency users, some 30 percent of all crypto trading takes place in South Korea!
Moreover, around 30 percent of all salaried employees own and trade crypto assets, often buying bitcoin at a premium over other countries according to the Cindicator report. This is a phenomenon known as the “Kimchi spread.”
2. The South Korean Exchange Infrastructure
As briefly touched upon above, South Korea, for a country of 50 million people, has a very developed cryptocurrency exchange ecosystem. Bithumb takes the cake in terms of volume.
In fact, according to today’s data by CoinMarketCap, it tops the list in terms of reported trading volume, reporting almost $1,5 billion in trading volume over the last 24 hours and an eye-watering 42 billion over the last month.
There are other key exchanges in South Korea as well. It’s noteworthy that they are all in the spot trading market. Coinone, Upbit, and Korbit are all names that you hear from time to time, although most of the market share according to Cindicator is held by Bithumb and Upbit (around 86 percent).
Koreans are extremely quick to buy new coins listed on either of these exchanges. There have even been some occasions where the mere mention of an altcoin getting listed on Bithumb has caused its price to rise by enormous proportions!
Bithumb listed TRX back in April of this year, for example, and the token price soared from 0.03 to 0.05 in just three hours.
3. Leading Blockchain Projects Despite ICO Ban
ICOs are still banned in South Korea and this has definitely limited the number and scope of blockchain companies in the country. However, since South Korea was particularly susceptible to Ponzi schemes and exit scams, the government made them illegal. There are whispers of this being removed in the near future though as the country’s crypto regulation starts to thaw for 2019 and beyond.
Despite the ban, though, some extremely noteworthy projects are flourishing in this high-tech country. From companies that empower identity protocol with blockchain, and even technology that allows independent blockchains to interact (ICON), there’s no shortage of innovation here! Digitex would certainly feel right at home in a market that likes to push the envelope.
4. The Regulatory Climate Is Thawing
You might not immediately think that an ICO ban is an indication of a crypto friendly country. But due to the high trading volume in South Korea and the fact that scammers found a huge market here, regulators were quick to respond.
ICOs were banned in March 2018 and so was anonymous trading of crypto. This means that all exchanges located in South Korea must perform KYC on their customers.
However, regulators here are starting to take cryptocurrency seriously. The government has recently announced a package of 5 trillion won to stimulate the Korean economy through innovative technology–with 1 trillion (around USD 880 million) allocated to blockchain initiatives.
Rumors have also been rife about ICOs becoming legal again in this country. It certainly seems as if the government is easing up on entrants and operators in the space and 2019 looks to be a great year for cryptocurrency in South Korea and hopefully the entire region as well!
5. Tax on Crypto
South Korea, as the world’s 15th largest economy, also has one of the world’s highest taxation rates. However, it’s still a safe haven for crypto holders right now since the laws have remained the same since 2013.
Crypto is exempt from capital gains tax which means that traders can keep 100 percent of their profits. They also don’t have to navigate complex and uncharted end-of-year tax returns! We like hearing stats like this at Digitex. We also allow traders to keep 100 percent of their profits–after all, they’ve earned it.
Wrapping it Up
With such strong indicators of technology adoption in South Korea, it’s no wonder that this is a burgeoning market for cryptocurrencies right now. With the government thawing on cryptocurrency and setting out new blockchain initiatives, the country looks set to lead the charge in mass adoption.
Once our futures trading exchange is launched to the public, we have new markets in our sights, and South Korea is going to be a huge one for us! So watch this space! And if you haven’t signed up for early access yet, make sure you do–we’ll be annoucing the winners on December 31.