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Korea’s largest Bitcoin exchange nabs seed funding from Silicon Valley bigwigs

Josh Horwitz
Josh Horwitz
5:30 pm on Jan 20, 2014


South Korea has been one of Bitcoin’s quieter markets in terms of media coverage, but that could change now that several prominent Silicon Valley investors have provided seed funding to Korbit, a Korean bitcoin startup.

According to beSUCCESS, the company will receive $400,000 from bigwigs including Tim Draper (formerly of DFJ and founder of startup school Draper University), Naval Ravikant (founder of AngelList), David Lee (founder of SV Angel), and Barry Silbert (founder of SecondMarket and Bitcoin advocate).

Given the comparatively small sum, the investment appears to be a case of “who” rather than “how much.”

Tony Lyu, CEO of Korbit, tells beSUCCESS:

Korbit has already reached profitability in less than a year of operations. In order to grow our lead and global competitiveness, however, we brought in strategic investors who can add critical value in addition to their investment dollars. We’ll be leveraging their expertise in order to realize Bitcoin’s full potential in the years ahead.

Korbit is reportedly South Korea’s largest Bitcoin exchange and was founded in July 2013. It lets users deposit funds from their bank accounts and buy, sell, and withdraw bitcoins. The company claims to have 20,000 registered users to date. Other competitors in the space include BitUP, ddengle, and Coinplug, the latter of which received $400,000 in funding last November from the new Cupertino-based fund SilverBlue.

As is the case with most countries, it’s too early to say how the South Korean government might react to and regulate Bitcoin should its adoption grow in the country. Last December the state declared that it does not recognize Bitcoin as a legal currency. On the other hand, Korbit’s investment was in part due to the startup’s appearance at BeGLOBAL, a Silicon Valley summit held for Korean startups last September, where Draper served as a judge. That event was partially funded by Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, which indicates that, at the very least, Bitcoin entrepreneurship is not taboo.

(Image credit via Flickr user antanacoins)

(Editing by Steven Millward)

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