Binance acquires majority stake in Korean crypto exchange GOPAX


In this photo illustration the Binance logo is seen
Image Credits: SOPA Images (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Binance Holdings plans to return to South Korea after pulling out of the market in 2021. The world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform by volume said it had acquired a majority stake in South Korea-based crypto exchange GOPAX

In November, GOPAX suspended customer withdrawals from its DeFi service, GoFi, after suffering effects from the bankrupt lender Genesis Global Trading, a Digital Currency Group (DCG) subsidiary. Genesis offered yields on crypto lending to GOPAX, and DCG, which invested in GOPAX in April 2021, is the second largest shareholder of GOPAX. In addition, GOPAX’s parent company, Streami, is one of the 10 largest creditors of Genesis. 

The new capital from Binance will enable GOPAX customers to make withdrawals and interest payments to normalize the Korean crypto trading platform. GOPAX had more than 600,000 users as of March 2021, per its website. A spokesperson of Binance told TechCrunch that Binance also plans to offer Binance Academy, a blockchain and cryptocurrency education platform, to GOPAX users to improve blockchain, cryptocurrency and web3 awareness.  

Binance says its capital came from the Industry Recovery Initiative (IRI), a Binance-led co-investment project. Binance has set up IRI to protect users in the web3 industry and has committed $1 billion to the IRI project. Other firms in the web3 industry participated in the IRI project, including Jump Crypto, Polygon Ventures, Aptos Labs and Animoca Brands

“The Industry Recovery Initiative (IRI) was created to support promising companies that were negatively impacted by the events of last year,” Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, said in its statement. “We hope that taking this step with GOPAX will further rebuild the Korean crypto and blockchain industry.” 

Binance did not disclose the stake size or deal valuation of the acquisition. Still, according to a local media outlet in January, Binance was in advanced talks to purchase a 41.2% stake in GOPAX from the company’s largest shareholder, GOPAX CEO Junhaeng Lee. 

GOPAX is one of the five cryptocurrency exchanges (Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit and GOPAX) in South Korea. Upbit has the largest market share, with 76.6% in terms of traded value in 2021, followed by Bithumb and Coinone with 18.5% and 4.5%, respectively, per crypto research firm Xangle’s report

The latest acquisition comes nearly two months after Binance acquired Sakura Exchange BitCoin (SEBC) in Japan for an undisclosed amount as Binance eyes expanding its footprint in the East Asian market again.

Binance reentered Japan last year via the SEBC acquisition, two years after it paused its service in the Japanese market. Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) issued warnings to Binance, which operated without proper registration and license, in 2018 and 2021. Binance said it “secured its first license in East Asia by acquiring SEBC.”

Binance also said in its statement that it “is committed to collaborating with the South Korean regulators and virtual asset stakeholders to explore how Binance can leverage its technology and liquidity to support the local ecosystem.” The spokesperson at Binance did not provide further details on the ongoing conversations regarding licenses and registration in South Korea. 

South Korea is working to regulate the crypto sector to protect investors in the wake of a series of bankruptcies and accusations of fraud in the global web3 space last year; earlier this year, Japan also called for other countries to regulate crypto as strictly as banks. 

Binance has obtained regulatory approvals or authorizations in many countries, including Japan, France, Italy, Spain, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, New Zealand and more. 

GOPAX did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for further comment.

(Updates with comment from Binance in third and tenth paragraphs.)

Binance poised for Japan expansion after buying local exchange Sakura

More TechCrunch

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 day ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions