While nothing has been confirmed yet, talks have been underway for several months, according to insiders.
According to Bloomberg, crypto exchange platform FTX is reportedly in advanced talks to buy South Korea’s leading crypto exchange Bithumb. While no deal has been announced yet, the two companies have reportedly been in discussions for several months.
Bithumb is one of the leading centralized crypto exchanges in South Korea, along with Upbit and Coinone. Founded in 2014, it currently lists 188 crypto-currencies. CoinGecko data shows that Bithumb reached over $3 billion in daily trading volume at the end of November 2021; this figure has now dropped back to around $558 million.
The collapse of crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital has led multiple crypto companies to struggle with liquidity issues, with some (like crypto lending company Celsius and crypto exchange platform Voyager Digital) halting customer withdrawals and filing for bankruptcy.
FTX CEO and co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, however, has taken on a new role as the crypto industry’s lender of last resort. Through his various companies, Bankman-Fried extended credit to Voyager (before it filed for bankruptcy) and acquired BlockFi. He has also stated that over $2 billion is ready to be deployed for further bailouts.
It seems unlikely that the Bithumb acquisition is due to the recent market turmoil, as discussions have reportedly been ongoing for several months. Instead, FTX may be looking to expand its presence in South Korea in a move reminiscent of its purchase of Blockfolio in 2020.