Where to Buy Cryptocurrencies in South Korea

Where to Buy Cryptocurrencies in South Korea

by January 8, 2019

While the global cryptocurrency fervor has abated throughout the course of 2018 following bitcoin’s parabolic rise in the year prior, investors in South Korea into continue to trade cryptocurrencies via large cryptocurrency exchange gateways.

In South Korea, there are a few major cryptocurrency exchanges that handle the majority of cryptocurrency trading volume for retail investors with spot trading due to regulations against margin trading. Institutional investment into the cryptocurrency side of the industry is also negligible as current South Korean regulations are in an ambiguous discovery phase but investment into blockchain companies is still going strong.

South Korean investors tend to prefer cryptocurrency exchanges with simple fiat onramps for immediate fiat deposit and withdrawal as opposed to crypto-to-crypto exchanges which require a base cryptocurrency such as bitcoin (BTC) or Ether (ETH) to trade against.

For foreign investors interested in trading on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, the process is a bit different and does not allow South Korean fiat deposit and withdrawal. However, crypto-to-crypto trading is allowed and possible for foreigners on South Korean exchanges.

Currently, there are two major players in the Korean cryptocurrency exchange market: Bithumb and Upbit, which are both owned and operated by large Korean conglomerates.

Bithumb offers dozens of major and smaller cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, Ether, XRP, EOS, and others to buy and sell on its exchange. Registration is relatively straightforward with multiple languages supported on its website and mobile application. Depositing and withdrawing cryptocurrencies is similar to other worldwide exchanges.

Bithumb also operates an English customer support desk that is available 24 hours/7 days a week and can be found on their website. It went fully operational well before Upbit so has name recognition in South Korea as the first large volume cryptocurrency exchange. However, there have been some security issues with Bithumb in the past.



Source: Screenshot (Bithumb site)

Upbit is South Korea’s largest and most reputable cryptocurrency exchange. Created by Dunamu, a fintech subsidiary of Kakao Corp., Upbit has shot up to be the market leader among retail investors, garnering support for its simple user interface and user experience. It was the first major cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea to offer a plethora of cryptocurrencies with fiat pairings due to its partnership with U.S.- based Bittrex.

To buy and sell cryptocurrencies on Upbit, a user must need a local South Korean based number to sign up using Kakao Talk as the required two-factor authentication method. Once signed up, it is easy to start trading cryptocurrencies. Upbit offers a bitcoin (BTC) and ETH base currency market for crypto-to-crypto trading.



Source: Screenshot (Upbit site)

In South Korea, there are also a number of smaller cryptocurrency exchanges that are in the mid-tier level such as Coinone, Korbit, and Gopax that have less trading volume but offer strong security.

With South Korea being a worldwide hub for cryptocurrency trading activity, several exchanges are coming into business each month.

It is always advisable to research thoroughly before deciding to invest any money and use an exchange.


Featured image credit: Edited from here and here