Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, declined to comment on reports in local media that it is in late stage talks to acquire South Korean digital asset exchange GOPAX.

See related article: Binance will re-enter South Korea’s crypto market, CZ says

Fast facts

  • Binance is seeking to buy a 41.2% stake in GOPAX from founder and largest shareholder Lee Jun-haeng and plans to keep Lee as chief executive officer, local news outlet Decenter reported citing an unnamed industry official.
  • GOPAX is one of South Korea’s five crypto trading platforms licensed to provide fiat-to-crypto services to customers. GOPAX, which was last to attain the license among the five, has around 0.1% of the local crypto market, while industry leader Upbit controls more than 80%.
  • “We don’t comment on speculations or rumors,” a Binance spokesperson told Forkast via Telegram. GOPAX has not responded to phone and email requests for comments.
  • In November, Binance chief Changpeng Zhao said that the exchange is preparing to enter the South Korean market. Last year, Binance signed a partnership with local Busan city to help promote its blockchain ecosystem, which included establishing a regional office in Busan. 
  • GOPAX has reportedly sought new investment since its decentralized finance (DeFi) service GOFi halted withdrawal of principal and interest payments on Nov. 16, as it brokered products from Genesis Global Capital that suspended withdrawals earlier that day.
  • In a Dec. 31 announcement, GOPAX said it has completed the due diligence for a new business deal with the “largest global blockchain infrastructure company.” The statement didn’t provide a name, citing a non-disclosure agreement, but media outlets speculate that the unnamed company is Binance.
  • However, the GOPAX December announcement said the partner would be entering South Korea for the first time, and Binance did operate in the country in 2020. It later pulled out due to what it called tightened local regulations for crypto exchanges.
  • Crypto trading platforms in South Korea need to acquire information security approval from the authorities and have a partnership with a local bank to provide user deposit and withdrawal accounts under real names and other know-your-customer rules.

See related article: FTX contagion in S.Korea: GOPAX halts Genesis-backed DeFi