Why South Korean Bitcoin Adoption Could Outpace Most Other Countries This Year

The currency with the fifth-highest Bitcoin trading volume today is the South Korean Won, already surpassing some larger financial centers such as the UK, Russia, and Indonesia.

The country’s Bitcoin adoption is accelerating, and several factors indicate that it could outpace most other countries soon.

Also read: Korea Steadily Becoming a Cryptocurrency and Fintech Hub 

Korea, with a population of over 50 million, has a large remittance market. The most recent World Bank estimates show remittance inflows of $6.7 billion and outflows of more than $8.3 billion for Korea.


Why South Korean Bitcoin Adoption Should Outpace Most Other Countries This Year

Korbit, the first bitcoin exchange in the country with 33,500 registered traders, is one of the top two exchanges by volume. Through its product called Hyphen, the company offers a service which helps businesses send payments to any bank account in 30 countries globally using bitcoin.

Bitcoin.com caught up with Tony Lyu, Korbit CEO, to discuss why Korea looks set for an explosive growth in Bitcoin adoption.

South Korea is Very Bitcoin-Friendly

Bitcoin.com (BC): Bitcoin can be easier bought in South Korea than most other countries. How did Korea become so Bitcoin-friendly?

Why South Korean Bitcoin Adoption Should Outpace Most Other Countries This Year

Korbit (KB): Koreans are inherently familiar with virtual currencies. Korean gaming companies such as Nexon pioneered in-game virtual currencies in free-to-play games in the early 2000s. A major bank (KEB Bank) even created a virtual branch in a Korean social network (Cyworld) to provide banking services for the network’s digital token.

As such, Koreans have gone past the “if” phase of virtual currencies, and even the “when” phase, and is now at the “which” phase, as in, “which virtual currency is most useful for my needs?” For some use cases, Bitcoin is the answer.

Large and Growing Remittance Market

BC: Korea is consistently among the top countries for Bitcoin trading volumes worldwide. Can you explain how Bitcoin as a payment method has been growing?

KB: Bitcoin for merchant payments has not yet taken off in Korea, probably because alternative methods of electronic payment are already widespread.

Bitcoin for international remittances, however, is popular. I believe this use case has been a significant driver for the growth in trading volume in Korea.

BC: Do many people use your service for remittances?

KB: Yes, we see a lot of expat workers signing up to Korbit to take advantage of bitcoin for international transactions. They can be English teachers from developed countries such as the US, or migrant workers from developing countries such as the Philippines.

Remittance companies are also using bitcoin in the back-end of their services. So, many customers in Korea are using bitcoin and benefiting from it without even being aware of it.

Bitcoin has already taken a significant market share for some...


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