New trading platform to be formed
APRO Korea, a Korean fintech, said on Feb. 14 that it will start a global bitcoin trading platform called Aprobit in partnership with Bitfinex. Bitfinex is headquartered in Hong Kong and is the 60th largest cryptocurrency exchange. The new service is slated to start in March. Kim Byung-joon, an IT expert who formerly worked for SK C&C, will serve as the new platform's CEO, while Park Jae-soon, the founder of Tokenman, Korea’s first IEO exchange, will serve as the Aprobit’s chairman. Park is also managing Bitman, an online community for bitcoin investors. APRO Korea, the operator of Aprobit, said the soon-to-opened platform has been co-developed by an alliance of fintech companies and venture companies. Its strategic partners include Genesis Block, which provides over-the-counter digital asset trading services for individual and institutional investors, and RenRenbit, a Chinese startup that specializes in peer-to-peer bitcoin wallet services. Zhao Dong, founder of Renrenbit, and Andy Cheung, founder of bitcoin derivative exchange ACDX, are two of the major investors at Aprobit, the company said. Korea has four major cryptocurrency exchanges - Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit. They have been able to open real-name verified virtual bank accounts. Gopax wasn’t able to open real-name accounts but has been gaining a strong foothold in the local market as well. Korea's cryptocurrency market is largely dominated by those who started services before 2018. It is hard to win over customers already trading elsewhere since credibility is a major issue in finance. That is why Aprobit emphasizes that it has partnered with global players such as Bitfinex. Aprobit will be sharing Bitfinex’s order book. Market insiders say that the reason why Upbit could outperform Bithumb is that it started its service in partnership with Bittrex by sharing its order book and allowing the trade of a diverse range of currencies. Rani’s note: So will Aprobit be able to gain a foothold in the market? There has been no case where a cryptocurrency exchange started after 2018 has become a major player. Aprobit, however, is backed by its partnership with Bitfinex, and its order book is marketed via Bitman. It is not yet clear whether users will want to change platforms and jump to Aprobit.