Crypto exchanges face manpower exodus amid market doldrums

A Bitcoin price chart is displayed at an electronic board of Bithumb's customer center in Seoul in this April 26 file photo. Yonhap

By Lee Min-hyung

Korea's major crypto exchanges are facing a manpower exodus amid a prolonged winter in the global crypto industry. Some of them are also taking steps to streamline their organizational structure to defend against falling trade revenue.

Last week, Bithumb, the nation's second-largest crypto exchange, decided to shut down its research center after releasing its last report on June 2. The exchange launched the research-focused unit in May 2022, with a view to investing more in the research of the emerging crypto market and providing analytic reports on up-to-date trends across the industry.

However, the company ended up closing down the research center on falling revenue triggered by a decline in its biggest cash cow: the crypto trading commission. Lee Mi-seon, former head of the research center, also left the company in April and moved to game publisher Wemade. Other staff have also been relocated to other divisions after the shutdown of the center.

"The decision was made as part of our efforts to solidify our business competitiveness in line with the current market circumstance," an official from the exchange said.

According to data from the Financial Supervisory Service, Bithumb's first-quarter earnings reported a double-digit fall. The firm's sales plunged by 59 percent between January and March this year from a year earlier. Its operating profit suffered a sharper decline of 80 percent during the same period.

Other exchanges are also facing a similar uncertainty in their manpower or organizational structure.

GOPAX, the fifth-largest crypto exchange here, suffered the biggest shock in terms of a manpower exodus this year. About 20 percent of its staff have left the company this year alone amid lingering business uncertainty. It was recently taken over by Binance, the world's largest exchange.

A group of 10 staff members from other mid-tier exchanges such as Coinone and Korbit also left the company.

Dunamu, the operator of the nation's largest crypto exchange Upbit, however, has defended well against the ongoing crypto winter, with its sales growing by 58 percent in the first quarter from a quarter earlier. This was still a drop of 28 percent from a year earlier, but the company is on track to prove its resilience as the nation's dominant exchange operator. Dunamu attained a net profit of 326.3 billion won in the first quarter, up 54.9 percent from a year ago.

Lee Min-hyung

Top 10 Stories


Sign up for eNewsletter