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Major Exchanges Look to Reignite S Korean Crypto Market

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 1 min read

South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges appear to be cautiously returning their focus to domestic customers – with major platforms looking to bolster their security networks and begin large-scale marketing activities for the first time since the government was poised to shut them down.

Source: iStock/narvikk

This week, exchange giant Upbit and newly established platform GoPax announced that they had become the first exchanges in the country to obtain an information security management system (ISMS) license from the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA).

The ministry has issued guidelines stating that internet-based companies in the country with over 1 million daily visitors and/or revenues of USD 100 million or more should apply for an ISMS license.

And per Newspim, Upbit could well be followed by “three or four” other exchanges, who are currently waiting on KISA’s review of their applications. The media outlet quotes Upbit’s biggest rival, Bithumb, as stating it is “expecting to gain [a license] by the end of the year,” with Korbit also quoted as stating it is hoping to “announce the results” of its application “soon.”

Earlier this year, GoPax and Korbit claimed they had shored up their security by gaining ISO 27001 accreditation.

There are also signs that exchanges are now prepared to resume aggressive marketing efforts in South Korea, a country with population of more than 51 million. Exchanges voluntarily agreed to put a lid on marketing as an effort to firefight the government’s staunchly anti-crypto policy with ministers talking ominously earlier this year about a possible China-style exchange shutdown.

Since then South Korean crypto-mania has quelled somewhat, and the government has backed away from its hardline stance. Exchanges have since gradually been testing the water, with sports event sponsorship deals, minor giveaways and small-scale promotional events, none of which have drawn a response from the government.

However, Bithumb now appears to be upping the ante. The platform says it has successfully held cybersecurity workshops for some 600 middle and high school students at three schools in the Seoul metropolitan area. The company has also begun airing TV advertisements for the first time since the government threatened to shut down what it described as an “overheated” market.