Cryptocurrency Market Upturn Accelerates IPO Ventures for K-Bank (Upbit Affiliated Bank) and Bithumb

Choi Woo-hyung, CEO of KBank

The growth of the cryptocurrency market is providing a new impetus to the IPO strategies of domestic financial institutions. K-Bank and Bithumb Korea stand at the forefront of this transformative wave.

K-Bank, the first internet-only bank in South Korea, achieved significant growth through its partnership with Upbit, a domestic cryptocurrency exchange, in 2020. This alliance allowed K-Bank to earn a fee for every KRW deposit and withdrawal by Upbit users, leading to a revenue of KRW 29.2 billion in 2021, a booming year for the cryptocurrency market. Despite a temporary slowdown in 2022 and the withdrawal of its IPO plan, K-Bank decided to pursue an IPO again following a board decision in January. According to the financial investment industry, K-Bank aims to file for a preliminary IPO review in the first half of this year, targeting an IPO within the year. NH Investment & Securities, KB Securities, and Bank of America (BofA) have been selected as the underwriters. K-Bank’s mortgage loan balance increased by 114% year-on-year to KRW 4.9 trillion, and Korea Investment & Securities forecasts K-Bank’s net profit for this year to increase by 382% over the previous year.

Meanwhile, Bithumb Korea, the operator of the cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, is also boosting its IPO prospects by pursuing a corporate split. The newly established Bithumb Investment (tentative name) will take over Bithumb Korea’s holding company business, investment business, and real estate leasing business. Through this split, Bithumb Korea aims to enhance the efficiency of its core business, the cryptocurrency exchange, and to expedite the discovery of new growth drivers. This strategic move is expected to positively mpact Bithumb’s IPO challenge, targeted for the second half of 2025.