South Korea’s cryptocurrency market has shown a strong preference for XRP, the native currency of the XRP Ledger (XRPL), over Bitcoin, according to research conducted by Kaiko. The data indicates that trading in South Korea is primarily concentrated on XRP, with Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, and other altcoins following behind. The information was sourced from Upbit, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the country and a significant player in altcoin trading. The exchange is regulated by the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) [Kaiko].
Unlike other countries, where Bitcoin and Ethereum are dominant, South Koreans seem to gravitate towards XRP. Coinbase, a popular United States-based exchange, has trading volumes similar to Upbit. However, the preference for XRP in South Korea is significant [Kaiko].
While XRP may be leading the pack in terms of trading volumes, Bitcoin remains the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. The reasons for the popularity of the XRP-KRW pair on Upbit over the BTC-KRW pair may be multifaceted. It is worth noting that Bitcoin has wider adoption and has seen the development of more complex financial products over time [Kaiko].
In the United States, analysts foresee the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) eventually approving the first spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) in the coming months. The approval will depend on ensuring the absence of price manipulation from exchanges where price feeds are aggregated [Bitcoinist].
In recent years, exchanges have been working to combat various manipulative practices, including wash trading, which artificially inflates trading volumes. In March 2023, South Korea’s FIU investigated registered exchanges and found some with insufficient internal controls. These exchanges were fined and given a three-month period to improve [Kaiko].
The SEC has dropped its allegations against Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of Ripple, and Chris Larsen, the executive chair. The lawsuit against Ripple is still uncertain, as it was filed in December 2020 [Bitcoinist].
Overall, South Korea’s preference for XRP highlights the variations in cryptocurrency popularity across different countries. While Bitcoin remains dominant globally, regional preferences can significantly impact trading volumes and market dynamics [Kaiko].
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