South Korea's cryptocurrency exchange operators reaped huge profits in 2017 on the back of the national frenzy over digital money, data showed Wednesday.
The annual turnover of BTC Korea.com, which is in charge of local cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, stood at 333.4 billion won ($315.6 million) in 2017, up a sharp 77 times on-year from 4.3 billion won. Its net profit jumped from 2.5 billion won to 427.2 billion won over the past year, according to the report by Vidente Co.
The major source of income for BTC Korea is commissions earned from digital money, it noted.
Dunamu, which operates cryptocurrency exchange Upbit, logged 211.4 billion won in sales and 198.3 billion won in profit last year, which is considered huge given that Upbit began operations in October 2017, market analysts said.
Upbit is the No. 1 operator in South Korea, with a market share of over 50 percent, followed by Bithumb, Korbit and Coinone.
Cryptocurrency has become a very popular investment tool starting in the second half of last year, with around 3 million people in South Korea estimated to have bought and traded the virtual currency.
But the prospect for this year may be far from rosy due to a series of the government regulations on the market amid growing fears of a bubble burst and misuse, analysts pointed out.
As a latest measure, the country in January began a real-name trading system for cryptocurrencies, banning the use of anonymous bank accounts in transactions to prevent virtual coins from being used for money laundering and other illegal activities.
"The daily trading volume reached around 4 trillion won in January but has tumbled in recent weeks to one-tenth," Lee Jeong-ah, vice president of Bithumb, said in an economic forum Wednesday, grumbling over the government's "too tight" regulations, which lack "clear standards and understanding of virtual currency."
To secure a stable source of income, the company plans to put forth "a comprehensive financial platform where people can exchange physical money from all over the world into the virtual one for payment and remittance," Lee said.
Pointing to "clear limits in wholly resorting to trading commissions," another operator also said the company "has striven to expand the market base by seeking new channels for business opportunities." (Yonhap)