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Upbit is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea. It offers the trading of South Korean Won (KRW) with a wide selection of cryptocurrencies and a large number of Bitcoin pairs. Upbit launched on October 24, 2017, with the help of its American partner, the cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex. Within three months Upbit became the country’s largest crypto exchange in terms of daily transactions.
Upbit is operated by Dunamu Inc. the developer of the stock trading platform Stockplus. It is also affiliated with Korean internet giant Kakao Corp. which runs South Korea’s most popular mobile chat app, Kakaotalk. A unique feature of Upbit is the ability to trade currencies via the Kakao Stock platform, which is built on Kakaotalk messenger. This means Korean cryptocurrency users are able to trade cryptocurrencies as easily as they use the messaging app. This is highly significant due to the popularity of crypto trading in South Korea.
The founder of Upbit is listed in Forbes as Song Chi-Hyung, whose net worth was said to be between $350 million – $500 million in 2018. A graduate of Seoul National University, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics. He founded Dunamu in 2012 which started as a news aggregator but moved into fintech. In 2017 Song left his position as Dunamu CEO to focus on Upbit’s global expansion.
In 2018 the exchange was accused by the Korean Financial Services Commission of manipulating data processing systems to rake in more than ₩120 billion ($106.8 million), and falsifying ₩254 trillion worth of giả orders to inflate the exchange’s trade volume. Two top-level officers and one employee of Upbit, including Dunamu’s chairman of the board, were indicted without detention. Upbit strongly denied the allegations.
Yoojin, one of South Korea’s largest accounting firms, was hired to evaluate Upbit’s accounts and found it to have the required funds, and not to have committed any fraud, but questions remained over the legitimacy of the findings as the Korean government did not release a statement or additional information on the case.
As part of its expansion plans, in 2018 Upbit launched exchanges in Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia, and hosted a local language website for each exchange. In the same year, Upbit’s operator Dunamu announced plans to invest ₩100 billion ($92.5 million) toward blockchain technologies over the subsequent three years.