After a month-long block on new user registration, South Korean exchange Bithumb is finally poised to restart. Local news sources claim that Bithumb will sign a new contract with Nonghyup Bank tomorrow (August 30th), which will allow the exchange to start allowing new user registrations once more.
Nonghyup Bank suspended its services with Bithumb back at the end of July, after two major hacks totalling nearly $50 million saw the reputation of one of South Korea’s largest exchanges plummet. Bithumb’s 24-hour trading volume took a massive hit accordingly, with a 40% drop. However, in the wake of this most recent news, volumes have spiked once more, with Bithumb once again entering the world’s top 5 in terms of 24-hour volume, with over $360 million.
The South Korean government has still only approved a very limited number of exchanges to guarantee real-name accounts; Upbit, Coinone, Korbit and Bithumb. The end of 2017 and first few months of 2018 saw authorities crack down on slack KYC policies and many exchanges in South Korea were fined, suspended or shut down entirely.
The resumption of Bithumb’s services will see the market respond quite healthily, with increased liquidity. Many investors have been holding their breaths, waiting to see if the exchange could sign a new deal, as if they had failed to do so, they could have received a suspension of service from the South Korean government in the current climate.
However, the government is said to have been discussing a reversal of the ban on ICOs amid talks about turning the country into a “blockchain island” – a phrase used to describe Malta. And a “market insider” was widely quoted on the web last week (albeit with no name connected to the comment) as saying, “The entire industry is paying much attention to how its stance will change through various discussions in the National Assembly” – indicating that there could be news on the horizon.