South Korea’s largest game developer Nexon Co. has acquired Korbit, one of the country’s top three cryptocurrency exchanges at 91.3 billion won ($80.1 million), betting big on the burgeoning local cyber money market.
Nexon’s holding company NXC said in a regulatory filing that it purchased a 65.19 percent stake in the cryptocurrency exchange Korbit at 91.3 billion won from its founder Tony Lyu and venture capital firms including Korea Investment Partners Co. on September 20.
Established in 2013, Korbit is Korea’s first bitcoin exchange. It is currently the country’s third largest cyber money trading center following Bithumb and Coinone, with about 30,000 subscribers, and is also the 16th largest bitcoin exchange in the world. Last month, it even ranked fifth in the global cryptocurrency market. The top three exchanges are currently dominating the local virtual money market where about 30 players are competing to lure investors.
Riding on the popularity of virtual currency Bitcoin and Ethereum, the domestic cryptocurrency market has rapidly grown with its current daily transaction value already exceeding Korea’s secondary Kosdaq market. But overheated competition in the market has raised concerns over service problems in cyber money exchanges and fraudulent practices in the absence of proper regulations in the sector.
Industry observers expected major game developer Nexon’s advancement into the market would accelerate setting up regulations in the sector so that the market can develop with stability.
NXC said the acquisition was part of the company’s efforts to diversify its business portfolio, hinting at its high expectations for the growth of the cryptocurrency market based on the blockchain technology.
“NXC has reviewed investment in a wide range of startups that are armed with promising digital ideas and technologies,” an unnamed official at Nexon said, adding that the company has decided to acquire Korbit on expectations for the growth potential of the virtual currency sector.
By Seo Dong-cheol
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