Upbit, a leading South Korean cryptocurrency exchange, has surged into the top five global crypto exchanges, challenging industry giants like Binance and Coinbase. This rise comes amid a resurgence in Asia’s cryptocurrency markets and increased regulatory scrutiny in South Korea.

Key Takeaways

  • Upbit now ranks among the top five global crypto exchanges.
  • The Korean Won has become the most-used fiat currency for crypto transactions, surpassing the USD.
  • Upbit dominates 80% of South Korea’s crypto trading volumes.
  • New regulations in South Korea could further solidify Upbit’s market position.
  • Despite regulatory challenges, South Korean traders remain highly active in the crypto market.

Upbit’s Meteoric Rise

Upbit offers a wide array of cryptocurrencies, making it a dominant player in South Korea’s crypto landscape. The exchange accounts for 80% of the total crypto trading volumes in the country, putting it in direct competition with global players like Coinbase. Meanwhile, Binance appears to be losing market share in Asia.

Interestingly, Upbit’s rise comes despite increasing regulatory measures in South Korea. Last year, Upbit’s clientele made up nearly a fifth of its primary banking partner’s overall deposits, drawing significant criticism from a South Korean legislator.

Regulatory Landscape

New legislation aimed at safeguarding investors, introduced after the collapse of TerraUSD in 2022, could inadvertently strengthen Upbit’s dominant position. The updated regulatory framework requires crypto exchanges to bolster reserves, secure investor protection insurance, and intensify surveillance of suspicious transactions. As a result, Upbit has decided to submit deposits and withdrawals exceeding $1 million.

Earlier this week, Singapore-based Crypto.com postponed its plans to launch in South Korea, citing the need for more time to consult with regulators.

South Korea’s Crypto Enthusiasm

Despite the $40 billion collapse of TerraUSD, South Korean traders continue to show high participation in the crypto space. Over 6 million Koreans, more than 10% of the population, engaged in cryptocurrency trading on registered exchanges in the first half of last year.

Altcoins, smaller tokens beyond Bitcoin and Ethereum, contribute to 80% of the trading volume on Korean exchanges, compared to around 50% on global platforms. This high level of interest has even become a political issue, with candidates in recent parliamentary elections pledging to ease constraints on digital asset investments.

Market Dynamics

The rise of Upbit and the increasing use of the Korean Won for crypto transactions highlight the dynamic nature of the cryptocurrency market in Asia. As regulatory frameworks evolve, the landscape will continue to shift, offering both challenges and opportunities for market players.


Upbit’s ascent to the top five global crypto exchanges marks a significant milestone in the cryptocurrency world. With its dominant position in South Korea and the evolving regulatory landscape, Upbit is well-positioned to continue its growth, challenging established giants like Binance and Coinbase.


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