In tandem with the IPO preparations, Bithumb has initiated efforts to improve its corporate structure.
Bithumb, one of South Korea’s leading crypto exchanges, is reportedly gearing up for a groundbreaking Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the KOSDAQ, South Korea’s equivalent of the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ: .IXIC).
Bithumb IPO: An Ambitious Move
A recent report from local news outlet Edaily indicates that Bithumb is setting its sights on becoming the first digital asset company to go public on the South Korean stock market, with the anticipated listing date slated for the second half of 2025.
While Bithumb has yet to officially confirm its IPO plans, sources have revealed that the exchange has taken significant steps in that direction. Bithumb has reportedly chosen Samsung Securities as its potential IPO underwriter, a crucial role in ensuring the financial stability of a company before it goes public. However, there is openness to considering the KOSPI market as an alternative, highlighting the flexibility in Bithumb’s strategic approach.
The decision to go public is largely seen as a response to the intense competition with Upbit, which currently dominates the South Korean crypto exchange market with an 85% market share. Bithumb, currently the second-largest exchange by daily trading volume, is determined to regain its leadership position.
The move comes as Upbit’s monthly trading volumes surpassed those of global giants Coinbase Global Inc (NASDAQ: COIN) and Binance, highlighting the growing influence of South Korean exchanges in the global crypto market. The company aims to bolster market trust in its exchange operations by undergoing external verification of its internal control system and demonstrating a commitment to governance and management transparency.
Founded in 2014, Bithumb has evolved into a major player in the crypto industry, boasting a 24-hour trading volume of approximately $600 million at the time of writing, according to data from CoinGecko.
Bithumb’s Challenges and Legal Scrutiny
Bithumb’s journey to an IPO has not been without challenges. Both Bithumb and Upbit faced regulatory scrutiny in May when South Korean authorities raided their offices over allegations of fraudulent crypto trading on behalf of a local lawmaker.
In February, one of Bithumb’s largest shareholders, Kang Jong-hyun, was arrested on embezzlement charges. In addition to Jong-Hyun, South Korean authorities have requested the arrest of two other Bithumb executives, including his younger sister Kang Ji-Yeon, adding another layer of complexity to the company’s legal landscape.
However, in tandem with the IPO preparations, Bithumb has initiated efforts to improve its corporate structure. Former Chairman Lee Jung-hoon, the largest shareholder, has established Bithumb Holdings, serving as a holding company.
Lee, a key figure in Bithumb’s history, has returned to the board of directors, signaling a commitment to strengthen responsible management. The reshuffling of leadership roles, including the exclusion of CEO Lee Sang-jun, suspected of soliciting coin listings, underscores Bithumb’s dedication to internal consolidation and governance reform.