South Korea: Bithumb Exchange Operator Reveals Plans for US, Japanese Markets

The CEO of Singapore-based Blockchain Exchange Alliance (BXA) — which has a controlling stake in major South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb — has revealed plans to expand to the American and Japanese markets. The news was reported by Cointelegraph Japan on April 18.

BXA CEO BK Kim told Cointelegraph Japan in an interview that BXA’s strategy is to pursue a so-called reverse merger route by acquiring a publicly-traded company that is already listed on either Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

The route can be a faster way to take a company public than a traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO), BK Kim noted, adding that it can also help reduce listing fees — reportedly estimated to amount to around $6 million.

According to BK Kim, BXA has already sought legal advice in the United States, where a lawyer has reportedly given the opinion that the current legal framework allows for BXA to be listed using such a reverse-merger structure.

The CEO also revealed that BXA is currently seeking potential partners in Japan to establish a joint venture for a crypto exchange that would be officially licensed by the country’s watchdog.

BK Kim further discussed plans to prospectively increase BXA’s stake in Bithumb by acquiring up to 70% of Bithumb operator BTC Holdings —  although he emphasized that even without the additional shares, BXA is already the controlling stakeholder for the exchange.

In regard to BXA’s own token, BXA — already listed on BitMax exchange — the CEO noted that a potential Bithumb BXA listing would require thorough consideration of regulatory impediments and that the firm would announce any further developments on the matter.

BK Kim’s disclosure of BXA’s U.S. plans confirms anonymous sources who had indicated the company’s interest in pursuing a reverse-merger this January, as reported at the time.

Earlier this week, BXA received $200 million in funding from Japan’s ST Blockchain Fund, with the reported intent to use the funds to expand the international outreach of Bithumb.

Bithumb has undergone a turbulent period, recently suffering losses of around $13 million from a late March hack in what executives suggested was an insider operation to defraud the company. The exchange was prompted to conduct an external audit to reassure users its funds were being kept in cold storage wallets and that the losses had affected the exchange’s assets only.

Prior to that, a major hack in 2018 had resulted in the loss of around $17 million. Bithumb’s company's net annual losses for that year totalled about $180 million.