Introducing: The State of LATAM Crypto Markets

Crypto fee war heats up in South Korea.

Asia

Bitcoin

Coinbase

15/04/2024

Welcome to the Data Debrief!

Welcome to the Data Debrief! Last week, BTC fell in tandem with risk assets amid escalating geopolitical tensions. However, it  regained ground early on Monday after Hong Kong approved spot BTC and ETH ETFs. In other news, the U.S. SEC issued a Wells notice to Uniswap Labs, and MarginFi experienced over $200 million in outflows as its founder exited. This week we explore:

  • The fee war in South Korea

  • The market reaction to Uniswap Labs Wells notice

  • Coinbase’s growing dominance

  • BTC correlation with the Dollar


Trend of the Week

The crypto fee war heats up in South Korea.

Upbit has been the dominant player in the South Korean crypto market since early 2021 with an average market share of 82% over the past three years. However, competition has intensified during the recent bull run, with Bithumb and Korbit launching aggressive zero-fee campaigns in late 2023.

While Korbit’s market share did not significantly increase, averaging less than 1% in 2024, Bithumb’s market share tripled in the months following the introduction of its zero-fee policy in October 2023.


Despite its aggressive zero-fee strategy and the resulting surge in trade volume, Bithumb’s annual revenue dropped by 60% in 2023. The significant decline in revenue may have prompted the exchange to discontinue its zero-fee campaign on February 5th, just five months after its launch.

Overall, the improving macroeconomic environment  and fierce competition among Korean exchanges has boosted trade volume on Korean markets which hit its highest level in more than two years in early March. In Q1 2024, the South Korean Won (KRW) surpassed the US Dollar (USD) in terms of cumulative trade volume.

Although KRW volumes have declined in early April, the approval of spot BTC and ETH ETFs in Hong Kong could boost sentiment in APAC markets.


Never Miss An Analysis

Get our research twice a week, directly to your inbox.

Data Points

Uniswap Labs Receives Wells Notice from The SEC.

Uniswap Labs, the developer behind decentralised exchange, announced on April 10 that it received a Wells notice from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The move is the latest action brought by the regulator against crypto firms as it looks to clamp down on the industry. The exact nature of the notice is unknown and Uniswap Labs didn’t share it publicly. It’s likely similar to previous actions against Kraken, Binance, and Bittrex which were accused of running unregistered securities exchanges.

Hayden Adams, Uniswap’s founder, criticised the SEC’s approach and said his firm intends to fight any legal action taken against them.

The risk of impending legal action sent the UNI token price lower as volumes spiked 3,000%. UNI fell over 16% from $11.24 to $9.36 following the news. Hourly trading volumes rose from $2mn to $67mn. Most of the trading took place on centralised exchanges.

Coinbase dominates US crypto market.

Coinbase has increased its market share in the US over the past year, while some of its competitors have been less fortunate. Binance.US has seen its share of the US market capitulate amid legal woes, down from over 30% last year to around 0.28% today.

Market makers fled Binance.US last June after the SEC filed a lawsuit against the exchange and volumes have remained well below record highs ever since. Even renewed retail interest in cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin reaching record highs this year hasn’t managed to entice users back.

Grayscale’s ETHE underperforms ETH.

Grayscale’s Ethereum fund has lagged its underlying asset this year. While ETH is up 50% since January, ETHE has gained 31%. The digital asset manager has filed to convert the trust into a spot ETF, similar to how GBTC converted to a spot Bitcoin ETF in January. Hopes of spot Ethereum ETFs gaining approval in the US have faded in the past few months and this likely explains some of the underperformance.

Bitcoin’s Negative Correlation With the Dollar Strengthens.

Last week, BTC’s 90-day correlation with the Dollar Index (DXY) dropped to a negative 0.24, reaching its lowest level in over a year after briefly turning positive in late 2023.  The US Dollar has gained strength due to higher-than-expected US inflation readings and escalating Middle East conflict. In contrast, BTC, failed to attract safe-haven flows, and fell in tandem with risk assets last week.

Data Used In This Analysis

  • Trade Data

    Price and transaction volume for centralized exchanges.

  • Market Depth

    All bids and asks on an order book

  • Wallet Data

    All users, all transactions, and all history for blockchain wallets.

More From Kaiko Research