South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb has announced its plans to go public in the second half of 2025 by launching its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on South Korea’s KOSDAQ stock exchange.
For now, the focus is on the KOSDAQ listing, but there is a possibility of changing the destination to the country’s main security market, KOSPI.
Bithumb did not comment clearly on their IPO plans but said, “It is true that we have selected an underwriter.” By October end, Bithumb Korea selected Samsung Securities as the underwriter and began working on the IPO.
Contrary to typical IPO motivations, Bithumb’s decision is not driven by the need for external funding. According to Bithumb Korea’s semi-annual report for this year, the company has financial assets worth more than 400 billion.
Instead, the purpose of the IPO is to help Bithumb regain the top spot in the market, which was lost to Upbit due to a lack of market trust. The company aims to achieve this by enhancing governance, increasing management transparency, and obtaining external verification for its internal control system.
To push the IPO, efforts to improve the corporate structure of Bithumb have also begun. The return of Lee Jeong-hoon, the former chairman of the board of directors for Bithumb Korea and Bithumb Holdings, as a registered director at Bithumb Holdings, is part of this restructuring. Conversely, Bithumb Holdings CEO Lee Sang-jun has been ousted from the board of directors over allegations of soliciting coin listings.
Bithumb saw a dip in market trust earlier this year when tax authorities raided the crypto exchange’s Seoul headquarters. There were suspicions of the crypto exchange promoting fraudulent crypto trading on behalf of a local lawmaker.
Bithumb’s decision to pursue an IPO and the ongoing crackdown on local crypto activity indicate a complex and evolving regulatory landscape in South Korea. It remains to be seen how the balance between innovation and regulation will be struck and how this will impact the overall development of the crypto ecosystem in the country.
The writer is the founder at yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash