According to South Korean outlet Edaily, Bithumb is considering an initial public offering (IPO) on KOSDAQ - a local version of Nasdaq - in the second half of 2025. Last month, the exchange chose Samsung Securities as its underwriter, which guarantees the company’s financial security before it goes public and then buys its shares and resells them to the public during the IPO.
"We selected Samsung Securities as our manager for initial public offering. We aim to go public during the second half of 2025," an official said.
The exchange is also open to an IPO on the country's primary market for medium to large capital blue-chip stocks, the KOSPI, reported another local outlet citing a Bithumb official.
Bithumb is the second-largest crypto exchange in the country by daily trading volume, following Upbit, which dominates with over 80% of the South Korean market. Becoming the first crypto exchange listed on the Korean stock market is hoped to become its USP to attract new customers. The IPO’s main aim is not to raise funds, but to conquer Upbit’s dominance in the market by improving transparency, providing external confirmation of its financial stability and security and thus increasing users’ trust.
"Our IPO is not about raising funds. Many people have doubts about cryptocurrency exchanges because they perceive them as not being transparent," - the company official said to The Korea Herald.
Bithumb in particular could really benefit from increased user trust of late, as the company, its top executives and shareholders have been involved in a number of recent scandals and investigations:
CEO Lee Sang-jun was excluded from a place on the board of directors due to an ongoing investigation into alleged bribery to gain token listings.
The new CEO of Bithumb Holdings, Lee Jae-won, is a close associate of Lee Jung-hoon, the company’s former chairman and one of the largest shareholders, who was accused of fraud in 2018 related to the crypto exchange’s acquisition but was found not guilty earlier this year.
Another major company shareholder and suspected “real owner”, Kang Jong-hyun, was arrested on embezzlement charges this February. Also, Bithumb and its main rival, Upbit, were raided by prosecutors due to investigations surrounding the digital assets of a local lawmaker this May.
This Summer, South Korea passed a comprehensive crypto law, focused on regulating the activities of virtual asset service providers. Local authorities had earlier cracked down on unregistered crypto operators and intensified work on crypto legislation after the country's largest crypto project, Terra, collapsed.
Despite the regulatory crackdown and multiple investigations, the crypto industry in South Korea remains strong. This Summer, Upbit even overtook Coinbase and OKX to become the world's second-largest crypto exchange after Binance by trading volume.