Bithumb Korea Posts Disappointing Financial Figures – Despite Bumper Transaction Volumes

Bithumb Korea, the operator of the Bithumb crypto exchange, has reported a year-on-year decline in profitability for the Financial Year 2023, despite recent upturns in trading volumes.

Per the South Korean media outlet New Daily, year-on-year sales figures fell by 58%, according to a Bithumb statement on April 2.

However, while the company’s performance shrank compared to 2020, its profits remained in the black.

Trading volumes on South Korea’s Bithumb crypto exchange over the past 12 months. (Source: CoinGecko)

Bithumb Korea: Did Commission-free Trading Harm Financial Results?

Bithumb Korea said its exchange business “recorded operating losses of [just over $11 million]” in FY2023.

The firm had posted sales revenue of $236.7 million in FY2022, but this shrank to just over $100 million in FY2023, the firm said.

Net profit also fell to $18 million, a 74.5% decrease from the previous year’s $120 million. The decline failed to send Bithumb Korea into the red, however.

Instead, the firm has now posted net profits for four consecutive financial years. Bithumb officials claimed that crypto winter had taken its toll on the firm’s performance. A spokesperson said:

“Last year, we focused on improving usability and strengthening customer service in the difficult market environment of crypto winter. This year, we will continue to introduce differentiated services to improve our performance.”

Some believe the exchange’s decision to suspend commission fees last year may have hurt profitability.

A Bithumb customer service center in South Korea.

A Bithumb customer service center in South Korea. (Source: SBS News/YouTube)

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The firm decided to stop charging commission on coin trades on October 4 last year in a bid to claw back market share from the market-leading Upbit.

This policy proved a dramatic success. It briefly saw Bithumb transaction volumes outstrip those on the Upbit platform.

However, critics have pointed out that almost all of South Korean exchanges’ revenue comes from commission fees.

Bithumb ended commission-free trading earlier in February this year.

Cryptocurrency exchange operator said Tuesday it would launch its exchange app service in Korea this month while expressing its hope for winning the regulatory nod for Korean won-based transactions soon.

— The Korea Herald 코리아헤럴드 (@TheKoreaHerald) April 2, 2024

Bithumb IPO on its Way?

The same media outlet reported that Bithumb and Upbit are taking very different approaches to the initial public offering (IPO) market.

Dumanu, the Upbit operator, has an estimated market capitalization of some $3.6 billion, compared to Bithumb Korea’s $476 million.

A graph showing trading volumes on South Korea’s Upbit crypto exchange over the past 12 months.

Trading volumes on South Korea’s Upbit crypto exchange over the past 12 months. (Source: CoinGecko)

But while New Daily reported that Dunamu is in “wait and see mode” regarding a possible IPO, Bithumb is hoping to “accelerate” its listing on the Korea Exchange.

The exchange hopes to complete its listing by 2025, and recently announced plans to spin off its non-exchange-related businesses to speed the process up.

In contrast, the media outlet wrote, Dunamu “is in no hurry to go public.” The operator reportedly wants to wait to see how the “market situation” develops before making its move.

South Korea’s inflation outstripped forecasts in March, reinforcing the view that it’s still too soon for the central bank to consider easing its policy settings

— Bloomberg Markets (@markets) April 2, 2024

In 2021, Dunamu was rumored to be eyeing a NYSE-based IPO. But the onset of crypto winter in 2022 seemingly buried talk of a public offering.

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The media outlet concluded that there were “relatively few obstacles” to a Dunamu listing. And it said that the exchange operator was inclined to bide its time.

Bithumb has also attempted to attract new customers by launching new, lucrative points-type rewards programs and what it calls “the industry’s lowest commission rates.”

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