Source: iStock/FotografiaBasica


South Korea’s biggest crypto exchanges appear to be on an expansion drive – and have hired 620 new staff members this year.

Per the media outlet The Fact, the “big four” crypto trading platforms in the nation – Upbit, Bithumb, Korbit and Coinone – have been growing their workforces in 2021. And pay rates at the firms are on the up, too.

Among the new hires are a number of former senior-level regulators, including ex-officials from the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), a body with indirect control over the way crypto is policed in the country.

And in addition to the FSS hires already reported on by, Bithumb this month successfully completed the hire of a former “grade 5” civil servant from the Financial Services Commission (FSC), the regulator that governs the sector.

The Fact claimed that Upbit has seen the most aggressive growth, hiring 350 new employees, with plans in place to recruit another 60 “before the end of the year.”

Bithumb, meanwhile, went on a hiring spree in September, when it launched a drive aimed at hiring 200 new staff members.

Furthermore, job offers are now coming with monster salaries, the media outlet claimed, with some pay rates hiked by 150%. A range of bonus benefits is being tacked on to new job postings in order to entice the nation’s top IT talent – including 20% annual salary bonuses, stock options, and even housing expenses.

Recommendation bonuses of over USD 2,500 are commonplace for employees who recommend acquaintances who go on to fill posts at the exchanges.

At least 100 of the new hires have been taken on specifically to deal with anti-money laundering (AML)-related matters, the report’s authors noted.

Meanwhile, firms are growing so large, they are ready to snap up stakes in the conventional banking sector. In November, the Upbit operator Dunamu bought a minority stake in the Woori Financial Group, one of the biggest banking groups in South Korea and the firm behind Woori Bank.

Per Maeil Kyungjae, which called the move one of the most significant domestic and international crypto developments of 2021, Dunamu emerged as a surprise buyer when the state-owned firm Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation put its 9% stake in Woori up for auction late last month, snapping up 1% in the banking firm, with four other firms buying up the remaining 8%.

The media outlet – the nation’s leading financial newspaper – added that it expected to see more M&A activity from crypto exchanges and their operators in the year ahead as these firms seek greater legitimacy in the world of conventional finance.


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