In spite of the downtrodden state of the cryptocurrency market, which on Tuesday struggled to remain north of US$300 billion (in market cap), there continues to be a stream of encouraging lead indicators in one of the most important nations for blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
Indeed, as far as South Korea is concerned, it would appear that the only crypto-related element not seeing marked improvement in recent times is the asking price for Bitcoin (BTC), and most other cryptocurrencies for that matter.
Just this week, a number of breakthroughs have occurred in South Korea. Perhaps a bi-product of the overly bearish market conditions, these developments appear to have gone largely unacknowledged by the crypto community; buried under the ever-fruitful cryptocurrency news cycle.
Starting with news out of The Korea Times on Monday, and it was reported that Bithumb, the nation’s premier crypto exchange, finalized a partnership with Korea Pay’s Service, a mobile payment service provider which operates mobile gift certificates and electronic payment transactions to over 200 franchises.
The collaborative efforts of Bithumb and Korea Pay’s Services, which the popular virtual currency exchange described as “a landmark step,” will work towards making cryptocurrency available at some 6,000 outlets by the end of 2Q18. This figure is anticipated to balloon to 8,000 by the close of 2018.
Also coming in the final week of March was a major announcement by way of Upbit, the second largest cryptocurrency exchange (by 24-hour volume) in South Korea. Following in the footsteps of US-headquartered Coinbase just weeks prior, Upbit revealed their plans to launch a cryptocurrency index service, Upbit Cryptocurrency Index (UBCI).
Providing specifications around UBCI was Lee Seok-wo, the President of Upbit’s parent company, Dunamu. He outlined how their virtual currency index (the first of its kind in South Korea) will comprise four indices: the Strategy Index, the Bitcoin Index, the Market Index, and the Sector Index. The latter three are set to launch next month, whilst the Strategy Index is without a timeframe as yet.
These encouraging developments from as critical a crypto player as South Korea, particularly amid such bearish market conditions, is consistent with recent analysis which shone light on the fact that each major South Korean cryptocurrency trading platform had attracted the financial backing of some of the nation’s largest multi-billion conglomerates in various sectors like insurance, telecommunications, gaming, and Internet.
In demonstrating the sheer volume of financial capital backing domestic exchanges like Korbit, Upbit, Bithumb, and OKCoin, the aforementioned Dunamu company represents just the seventh most valuable South Korean enterprise (by market cap) that has invested in their nation’s crypto exchanges.
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