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Kakao affiliate to open cryptocurrency exchange

Sept 26,2017
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Cryptocurrency exchange Upbit’s website. [DONAMU]
A Kakao affiliate will launch the most comprehensive cryptocurrency exchange in Korea yet, enabling traders to buy and sell more than 100 different currencies in Korea.

Dunamu, a local fintech company that runs Kakao Talk-based mobile stock trading app Kakao Stock, will partner with Bittrex to open a cryptocurrency exchange that can reportedly enable the trading of some 110 cryptocurrencies. Titled “Upbit,” the exchange platform will open next month.

Bittrex is one of the major cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States. The platform handles transactions in over 190 different currencies. On Monday as of press time, Bittrex was ranked ninth in the world in terms of bitcoin trading volume.

For cryptocurrencies that are considered minor in Korea and often not sold in local exchanges - such as tether and reddcoin - Bittrex was the top trading platform.

“Bittrex does thorough legal and technological investigations on cryptocurrencies before they are listed in the market,” said a spokesperson from Dunamu.

“Its founding members are security experts that worked in global IT companies such as Amazon and Microsoft so the company has an advanced security system.”

During the initial stage of the service, Upbit will mainly handle bitcoin and other major alternative coins such as ethereum, ripple and litecoin with trading volume exceeding a certain amount. The platform’s ultimate goal is to enable the trading of 111 different tokens from 167 different markets.

Right now, most cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea allow transactions of about six to eight currencies. Bithumb, Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform, handles eight currencies - including bitcoin, ethereum, dash and litecoin - all of which are considered main stream and rank within the top 10 in terms of market capitalization.

Through the partnership with Brittex, Upbit will allow Korean traders looking to trade currencies not found on local platforms to conduct direct transactions.

Until now, Korean traders wanting to buy and sell currencies not listed on local platforms, had to buy bitcoins from Korean exchanges and use them to trade currencies unavailable locally through platforms outside of Korea such as Brittex.

Even with direct purchasing centers, including the one run by Coinone, Korea’s second largest trading platform, Korean traders still had to go through this cumbersome process, which many local traders thought time-consuming and difficult to manage.

Traders using Upbit will also be able to use Kakao apps, including Kakao Talk and Kakao Pay, the company’s mobile payment service, making it easier for first time traders.

By offering more platforms for transactions, Upbit says it aims to make cryptocurrency trading as easy as mobile trading of securities, which has become a popular medium of stock exchange in Korea recently.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO, KO RAN [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]