SEOUL: A consortium led by a prominent Seoul plastic surgeon purchased a controlling stake in South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, reports said Friday.
The hyper-wired South has emerged as one of the world’s top Bitcoin markets, at one point accounting for more than 20% of global bitcoin transactions — about 10 times the country’s share of the global economy.
Singapore-based BK Global Consortium bought a 50% stake plus one share in Bithumb, the country’s biggest virtual currency exchange, from shareholder BTC Holdings for about 400 billion won (US$353 million), Yonhap news agency and other South Korean media said, citing industry sources.
Bithumb has more than a million customers but suffered a devastating hacking attack in June that left more than US$30 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen.
South Korean exchanges have been hit by a series of attacks by hackers who stole millions of dollars, contributing to the market losing steam as prices tumbled.
The BK consortium is an investment group led by Kim Byung-gun, a high-profile plastic surgeon who founded BK Plastic Surgery Hospital, a major clinic in Seoul that also has operations in Singapore.
Cryptocurrencies have plunged since the end of 2017, when Bitcoin hit a record high near US$20,000, having surged from less than US$1,000 just 11 months earlier. The unit is now worth around US$6,210.