Although nothing is confirmed yet, talks have been underway for several months, according to insiders.
According to Bloomberg, the crypto exchange, FTX, is in advanced talks to buy the main South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb. If no agreement has yet been announced, the two companies have been in discussion for several months.
Bithumb is one of the leading centralized crypto exchanges in South Korea, along with Upbit and Coinone. Created in 2014, it currently lists 188 cryptocurrencies. Data from CoinGecko demonstrates that Bithumb reached over $3 billion in daily trading volume by the end of November 2021; that figure is now down to around $558 million.
The collapse of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital has led multiple crypto companies to struggle with liquidity issues, some of them (such as crypto lending firm Celsius and crypto exchange Voyager Digital) halting client withdrawals and filing for bankruptcy.
FTX CEO and co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, however, has taken on a new role as the crypto industry’s lender of last resort. Through its various companies, Bankman-Fried extended credit to Voyager (prior to its bankruptcy filing) and acquired BlockFi. He also said more than $2 billion is ready to be deployed for further bailouts.
It seems unlikely that the acquisition of Bithumb is due to the recent market turmoil, given that discussions will be ongoing for several months. FTX may instead seek to expand its presence in South Korea in a reminiscent of Blockfolio’s 2020 purchase.