Venture capital interest in Bitcoin exchanges is expanding well into the Asia Pacific region’s developed economies, as Korean firm Korbit raises $3 million in Series A funding from Softbank Ventures Korea and Pantera Capital.
Additionally, Californian investor BAM Ventures will participate, along with returning investors Bitcoin Opportunity Corporation, Tim Draper, Pietro Dova and Strong Ventures.
Korbit operates within a similar business sector to Coinbase, itself the recipient of recent venture capital funding, and virtual currency payment gateway Bitpay, although as opposed to utilizing a global technology ecosystem to attract international business, Korbit concentrates its efforts on providing services which are specific to the Korean market.
Currently regarded as a startup, Korbit explained to TechCrunch yesterday that it intends to use the injection of funds to improve the quality of its products and services, and to make additional hires.
In April last year, Korbit, which also offers bitcoin wallet and merchant processing services through Korbit Pay, launched the first exchange with which users can exchange bitcoin to Korean won.
Although at startup phase, it currently has 25,000 users for its exchange and wallet services, and 400 merchant accounts for Korbit Pay, which started three months ago. South Korea is an area of interest for many financial technology firms, as it is boasts highly developed infrastructure and a very young population, a large percentage of which are technology-savvy.
Recently, it was reported by LeapRate that monthly FX deposits in Korean banks had increased by $7.3 billion, and that an upward surge in mobile trading in Korea had manifested itself, showing that should virtual currency gain a foothold in the nation, its populace is well equipped to embrace it.
The bitcoin exchange market is pretty healthy in Korea,” said Tony Lyu, the CEO of Korbit. “The use of bitcoin in commerce is just starting to pick up, through the introduction of merchant processing services such as Korbit Pay. Bitcoin can drastically improve the online payments experience for Korean users, because online payments are currently not user-friendly here due to antiquated regulations.”
In a statement, Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead said “South Korea has a booming e-commerce market and was an early adopter of virtual goods. The government supports innovation and even the banking foundation is invested in Korbit. Pantera Capital is excited about the investment in Korbit and confident that Bitcoin will thrive in Korea because of its early adoption of innovative technologies and abundance of technical talent.”