A consortium led by a plastic surgeon and start-up investor has taken a majority shareholder position in Bithumb, the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange. Kim Byung Gun, who has spent the bulk of his career giving face-lifts and performing double-eyelid surgery, made millions from investing in biotech and technology companies.
Reports this Friday indicate that his BK Global Consortium, which is based in Singapore, has invested 400 billion won ($352 million) in Bithumb. That investment will see Kim and BK Global taking a 50 percent plus one share stake in the cryptocurrency exchange.
According to a spokesperson for Bithumb, the deal will be completed in February of next year. BK Global will already be familiar to the people at Bithumb – prior to this recent investment, the consortium was the fifth-largest shareholder in the cryptocurrency exchange.
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Bithumb – Still Profitable?
Though the global cryptocurrency frenzy has died down over the course of this year, Bithumb has continued to generate impressive amounts of cash. The exchange reported a net profit of approximately $35 million for the third quarter of this year. That was despite it having to pay out around $40 million to customers to cover losses stemming from a hack.
South Koreans are still very active in the cryptocurrency markets which may explain Kim’s interest in Bithumb. The won remains the third most popular currency with which to trade bitcoin and, despite only making up 0.67 percent of the world’s population, South Koreans are responsible for close to 20 percent of Ethereum trading.
Still, from the outside, Kim’s investment appears to be a risky one. As noted, interest in cryptocurrencies has tapered off significantly since December of last year. Most exchanges have seen massive decreases in their trading volumes, and many cryptocurrencies have lost a huge amount of their value.
The South Korean government has also banned initial-coin-offerings – something that forced Bithumb to launch its own token abroad. Regulators in Seoul are also working on regulation for cryptocurrency exchanges.