A spokesperson from NXC, the corporation that is the largest shareholder of $11.5 billion-valued Nexon, confirmed to TechCrunch that it paid 91.3 billion KRW (approximately $79.5 million) for 65.19 percent of Korbit . South Korean finance website Hankyung previously reported on the deal, but it pegged the overall valuation at more than $150 million.
“NXC has been reviewing and investing in startups with digital idea and technology and this investment was made with our positive view on the growth cryptocurrency industry,” the company told TechCrunch in a statement.
The deal is a landmark for Korea, and really anywhere else in the world, since it represents an established corporate taking a big step into the world of cryptocurrencies.
Korbit raised a $3 million Series A round back in 2014 through investors including SoftBank Ventures Korea, Pantera Capital and Tim Draper. Since then it has expanded beyond bitcoin to offer Ethereum and dozens of other coins.
The service is well established in Korea, but it trails local leader Bithumb, which suffered a major hack this summer and is thought to have been targeted by North Korea hackers.
Nonetheless, the deal is testament to the development of bitcoin, Ethereum and cryptocurrencies more generally in Korea. The country is said to account for as much as 40 percent of global Ethereum trading, even though the government has outlawed ICOs. That’s as much down to the difficulties of investing in the local stock market as Ethereum’s boom, which has seen the value of a coin jump from $8 in January to around $300 at the time of writing.