Bithumb

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Bithumb
Bithumblogo.jpg
Founded 2014
Headquarters Seoul, South Korea
Key People Jae Won Choi, CEO; Lee Jung-hoon, Chairman
Products Cryptocurrency trading platform
Twitter @BithumbOfficial
LinkedIn Profile
Website Bithumb Home
Releases Company News
Blog Bithumb Blog

Bithumb is a cryptocurrency trading platform based in Seoul, South Korea.[1]

Products and services

Bithumb was the largest platform in South Korea as of October 2018.[2] It offers thirty-one cryptocurrencies and digital token trading against the Korean won on its platform. There is no other fiat currency used in its trading services.[3] Bithumb provides additional payment and other services focused on its Korean users.[4]

Ortus cryptocurrency OTC trading

On Thursday, February 8, 2019, Bithumb launched a cryptocurrency over-the-counter trading desk in Hong Kong called Ortus. It described Ortus as a "block deal, matchmaking service" for institutional clients. Customers applying to use Ortus have to go through a "strict" onboarding process, which includes KYC and AML documentation, according to representatives from Ortus. It also offers insured custody and transfers from a U.S.-based bank account.[5]

History

Bithumb was the victim of a major breach on June 29, 2017 when an employee's personal PC was compromised and customer information was stolen. Reportedly, "billions" of won (the fiat currency of South Korea) worth of bitcoin went missing from customers' accounts, although it should be noted that 1 billion KRW was worth less than $1 million at the time.[6] In May 2018, Bithumb announced that it would no longer accept accounts from 11 named nations due to concerns about money laundering.[7] CoinTelegraph, an online cryptocurrency news service, reported that a South Korean judge had dismissed claims by two Bithumb customers who said that they had sustained losses due to phishing attacks that were enabled by the hack. The judge found, however, that Bithumb was in fact "partially liable."[8]

In June 2018, Bithumb reported that it had lost $31 million worth of cryptocurrency in a hacking attack.[9]

On March 30, 2019, Bithumb reported that it had been hacked the previous evening. It said it lost about 4.02 million EOS, worth about $13 million at the time, from its own hot wallet. On April 1 CoinDesk reported that the hacker had stolen an additional $6.2 million worth of XRP (Ripple). [10]

According to its largest shareholder, Vidente, a South Korea electronic components manufacturer, Bithumb was presented with a tax bill of about $70 million by South Korea's National Tax Authority in late 2019. The tax represents claims by the South Korean government of 22% against the earnings of foreign nationals trading on the exchange. The amounts were calculated based on withdrawals by foreign customers. As the payable amount represents withholding taxes, Bithumb has the right to claim reimbursement of the tax payments from its customers. Bithumb is not permitted to have foreign customers on its platform according to local law. [11][12] Referring to the bill as a "tax bomb," University of Seoul taxation professor Woo said, “Bithumb can pay 80.3 billion won and [theoretically] afterwards collect the amount from its foreign clients, but practically it’s impossible."[13]

Bithumb closed its offline support center in Gangnam in November 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The company's support center in Seoul also closed on November 24, 2020, but continued operations through an online customer support center.[14]

Litigation

Bithumb was sued by 30-year-old Ahn Park, a South Korean citizen, for allegedly allowing hackers to steal 400 million won (about $355,000) from his personal Bithumb wallet, which took place in November 2017. Park accused the exchange of not having proper security measures in place. He argued that had the exchange provided adequate security measures, the theft would not have happened. He referenced another security breach Bithumb experienced earlier in 2017, in which the account information of 30,000 Bithumb users, as well as some Bithumb employees, were leaked. Park claimed this was likely how the hackers gained access to his account, and that Bithumb should have taken the necessary measures to mitigate the damage from the attack. He also said that Bithumb should be held to the same security standards as financial firms in South Korea. Bithumb argued that it could not be found at fault because it did not offer asset management or similar financial services. "According to the Electronic Financial Transactions Act," the company said, "Bithumb is not responsible for compensation because it is not a financial company, an electronic financier, or an electronic financial assistant…Since we have strengthened our security policy since the leak of personal information, we have fulfilled our obligation to be a diligent manager.”

In December 2018, a judge of the South Korean court system ruled in favor of Bithumb, agreeing that the company should not be considered a financial services company. The judge said that cryptocurrency is “mainly used as speculative means, so it cannot be regarded as an electronic means of payment.” The judge also said Bithumb had honored its fiduciary duty by sending Park several SMS messages informing him of the transactions that the hacker or hackers had made on his account.[15][16]

Reverse merger with Blockchain Industries

On January 22, 2019, BTHMB, the holding company of Bithumb, announced that it had signed a binding letter of intent to merge with the U.S.-based publicly-traded company, Blockchain Industries, a crypto investment firm that offers its customers over-the-counter cryptocurrency trading services. This "reverse merger" would allow Bithumb to go public without conducting an initial public offering (IPO) since the resulting entity from the merger acquired a controlling stake in Bithumb. The acquisition is expected to be completed by March 1st. Once it is, the two entities plan to call themselves the "Blockchain Exchange Alliance (BXA)." People familiar with the matter told CNBC that the BXA later plans to "up-list," or move from over-the-counter markets to trading institutions like the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. If this move is successful, it could make Bithumb the first publicly-listed cryptocurrency exchange.[17][18]

According to an account in CoinGeek, an online news service focused on cryptocurrencies, Bithumb did not proceed with its plans to merge with Blockchain Industries. According to the news service in June 2020, Bithumb had embarked on a plan to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) underwritten by Samsung Securities. This was apparently the only report of a potential Bithumb IPO in the English language press.[19]

In the space of less than a week in September 2020, the South Korean press reported that Bithumb's headquarters office in Seoul was raided twice by Seoul police in conjunction with an investigation into fraud related to the issuance of "BXA" tokens which were to be native to the new entity. Reports indicated that Bithumb Chairman Lee Jung-hoon may be a target of the investigation.[20]

The Block Crypto reported on September 22 that the South Korean press had reported that Bithumb was seeking a buyer.[21]

Accusations against Bithumb Chairman

In September 2020, Bithumb and its chairman Lee Jung Hoon were investigated by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency for allegedly pre-selling Bithumb's native token BXA for 30 billion won (about $27.5 million), and then not listing the token, causing losses for its investors. Hoon was also charged separately for allegedly attempting to evading paying taxes on property abroad.[22]

Deal with NXMH

In January 2021, South Korean business news site Maekyung reported that NXMH - the parent company that owns gaming company Nexon, which acquired Bitstamp in 2018 - was preparing to acquire Bithumb's 65 percent stake for $460 million. [23][24]

References

  1. South Korea Is Cracking Down on Cryptocurrency Exchanges for Alleged Tax Evasion. Fortune.
  2. Korea’s Largest Bitcoin Exchange Sells Stake in $350 Million Deal. CoinDesk.
  3. 24 Hour Volume Rankings (Exchange). Coinmarketcap.
  4. Bithumb: From A to Z. Insider Pro.
  5. Crypto Exchange Bithumb Launches OTC Trading Desk for Digital Assets. CoinDesk.
  6. Fourth largest Bitcoin exchange, Bithumb, hacked for billions of Won. Brave NewCoin.
  7. Crypto Roundup: Bithumb Ban, Pseudo-Mining and Falling Market Caps. Hacked.
  8. Bithumb found ‘partially liable’ for a 2017 hacking incident. CoinTelegraph.
  9. Korean crypto exchange Bithumb says it lost over $30M following a hack. Tech Crunch.
  10. Crypto Exchange Bithumb Hacked for $13 Million in Suspected Insider Job. CoinDesk.
  11. Korea’s Tax Agency to Withhold $70M From Crypto Exchange Bithumb. CoinDesk.
  12. Crypto exchange Bithumb hit with a massive tax bill of over $69M. The Block Crypto.
  13. Tax is withheld on Bithumb’s foreign clients. Korea Joongang Daily.
  14. Bithumb crypto exchange temporarily closes some offices due to COVID-19. Cointelegraph.
  15. South Korea: Dangerous Precedent Set – Court Finds Bithumb Not Financially Responsible for Crypto Exchange Hack. CCN.
  16. Court Win for Bithumb Exchange in Case of Crypto Investor’s $355K Hack. Coindesk.
  17. One of the world’s largest crypto exchanges looks to go public in the US through a reverse merger. CNBC.
  18. Crypto Exchange Bithumb Seeks US Listing via Reverse IPO. Coindesk.
  19. Bithumb tries to go public—again. CoinGeek.
  20. South Korean police reportedly raid Bithumb for second time. CoinTelegraph.
  21. Crypto exchange Bithumb is reportedly looking for a buyer. The Block Crypto.
  22. [Exclusive Nexon Kim Jung-joo acquires the cryptocurrency exchange'Bithumb'... Around 500 billion]. Maekyung.
  23. South Korean gaming giant Nexon is preparing to acquire crypto exchange Bithumb for about $460 million: Report. The Block.
  24. [Exclusive Nexon Kim Jung-joo acquires the cryptocurrency exchange'Bithumb'... Around 500 billion]. Maekyung.