Bithumb, once the largest cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea, is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in an effort to rebuild investor trust and reclaim its top spot in the market. The IPO, slated for the second half of 2025, will be the first ever for a major virtual asset trading platform in the country.
Bithumb hopes that going public will help overturn the current market structure dominated by rival Upbit, which controls around 85% of trading volume. An IPO is expected to boost governance transparency and provide external validation of Bithumb’s internal controls. This could help attract users back to the platform after it fell from itsleading position following a series of controversies in recent years.
The company has appointed Samsung Securities as its underwriter and is initially targeting a listing on the Korean KOSDAQ exchange. However, it may instead opt for the main KOSPI bourse depending on market conditions closer to the planned IPO date.
Bithumb’s Corporate Governance Reforms
In tandem with IPO preparations, Bithumb has made several moves aimed at improving its corporate governance. This includes the return of former chairman Lee Jung-hoon to the board of directors of the exchange’s holding company, Bithumb Holdings.
Lee, the largest shareholder, had stepped down from his role last year amid allegations of fraud involving the previous management. His reappointment is seen as an effort to strengthen oversight and responsibility at the top levels.
Meanwhile, former Bithumb Holdings CEO Lee Sang-jun has departed following accusations of pressuring coin issuers to pay for exchange listings. With governance reforms underway, Bithumb hopes to present itself as a reformed organization worthy of investor trust.
Reasons For Seeking Public Listing
Unlike some high-growth startups, Bithumb does not appear to be pursuing an IPO for capital raising purposes. According to recent financial reports, the company already holds significant cash reserves.
Instead, the main goal is to boost transparency and credibility in the eyes of regulators, investors, and customers. By having its operations and controls validated through the strict IPO process, the exchange aims to rebuild its reputation following past controversies.
The exchange also expects public listing to help attract talented personnel. This can further aid in rehabilitating its image and improving its competitive position against rivals like Upbit.