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South Korean Crypto Trading Shines: Coinbase & Binance Losing Market Share

Published October 27, 2023 12:22 PM
James Morales
Published October 27, 2023 12:22 PM

Key Takeaways

  • South Korean crypto exchanges have increased their global market share.
  • Meanwhile, Binance and Coinbase’s trade volumes have stagnated.
  • Korean crypto traders are an increasingly dominant force in global altcoin markets.

South Korea is increasingly established as a global crypto powerhouse and the country’s leading exchanges are increasingly prominent on the world stage.

Collectively, Korean crypto exchanges have increased their global market share in 2023, with trade volumes showing stronger growth compared to Binance and Coinbase. 

Relative Trade Volumes Rise vs. Binance and Coinbase

While South Korean platforms were subject to the same declining trade volume that affected all crypto exchanges in April and May, their trading volumes relative to Binance and Coinbase’ have increased this year.

According to research  by DeSpread, the combined trading volumes of the top 4 Korean exchanges increased to 16% of Binance’s in September, their strongest performance all year.

Together, UpBit, Bithumb, CoinOne, and Korbit have also increased their market share compared to Coinbase, the report observes.

crypto exchange market share
  Binance, (purple) Coinbase (blue), and UpBit (grey) market share

In fact, with UpBit accounting for 70%-80% of the Korean crypto trading market, in 2023, the exchange has confidently asserted its position ahead of Coinbase in the global league table. Data from Token Insight  shows that Upbit has surpassed the American platform’s trade volume almost every month this year.

South Korean Exchanges Focused On Domestic Market

While exchanges like OKX and Bybit have emerged as some of the most popular crypto trading venues on the planet thanks to their international appeal, South Korea’s exchanges remain largely focused on the domestic market.

According to Similarweb , between July and September, domestic traffic accounted for over 92% of visits to the country’s top four crypto exchanges.

Given the high percentage of local users, trading activity on Korean exchanges gives crucial insight into the unique characteristics of the country’s crypto market.

For example, the report by DeSpread found that individual retail investors account for the bulk of trading activity on Korean platforms. In contrast, nearly 85%  of Coinbase’s total trading volume in Q3 2023 originated from institutional customers.

South Korea, UpBit alt coins
  UpBit users prefer altcoins

Retail investors dominate the majority of trading activity on South Korean crypto exchanges, showing a strong preference for altcoins.

Unlike institutional investors, which heavily favor Bitcoin and Ether, Korea’s retail traders are inclined toward less well-known cryptocurrencies. In fact, the country has emerged as an influential force in global altcoin markets.

For example, after UpBit listed Mina this week, the token surged by as much as 90%. Combined with widespread optimism in crypto markets, news that investors would be able to purchase Mina with South Korean won has helped the cryptocurrency emerge as one of the top gainers of the past week. 

Likewise, back in September, Korean exchange users accounted for 62% of all Loom trades, pumping the coin to its highest price in 6 years.

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