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Cryptocurrencies

SK Square to invest $75 mn in Korea crypto exchange

To buy 35% stake in Korbit; SK Square, Korbit to upgrade services, seek new businesses such as NFTs

By Nov 29, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Korbit CEO Oh Se-jin
Korbit CEO Oh Se-jin

South Korea’s SK Square, an investment firm spun off from SK Telecom Co., will buy a stake in a local cryptocurrency exchange to expand its portfolio into next-generation platforms in the information communication technology (ICT) sector.

SK Square said on Nov. 29 that it decided to invest 90 billion won ($75.4 million) to buy a 35% stake in Korbit, one of the country’s top four virtual asset service providers (VASPs) of trading in the South Korean won currency, along with Dunamu Inc.’s Upbit. With the investment, SK Square will become the second-largest shareholder of Korbit after NXC Corp., the holding company of Korean online gaming giant Nexon Co.

Korbit was the second VASP that successfully registered with the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU) since South Korea’s lawmakers amended laws to require all VASPs to receive information security management system certifications and partner with local banks to create “real-name” verified bank accounts for customers.

The VASP was the first cryptocurrency exchange in the country that provided a service for transactions of Bitcoin and the won from 2013.

SK Square and Korbit aim to upgrade the exchange’s services in order to create an environment where customers safely trade with more accurate and reliable information. They also plan to jointly work on new businesses such as metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Separately, SK Square said it was set to buy a 40% stake in On Mind Inc., a unit of Neptune Company, an affiliate of Kakao Corp. On Mind is a three-dimensional (3D) digital human creator and has developed a virtual female influencer Sua.

Sua is actively performing in various fields, including signing a modeling contract with the South Korean unit of Unity Technologies, a US video game software development company.
On Mind's digital human Sua
On Mind's digital human Sua

SK Square focuses on investment in the semiconductor and ICT sectors. It has stakes in SK Hynix Inc., SK Shieldus, formerly known as ADT Caps Co., 11Street Co., Tmap Mobility Corp. and One store Co.

Write to Chae-Yeon Kim at why29@hankyung.com

Jongwoo Cheon edited this article.
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