In South Korea, XRP Is King: What’s Behind This Shift?

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In South Korea, XRP, the native currency of the XRP Ledger (XRPL), is king, not Bitcoin (BTC). According to Kaiko’s research, trading is concentrated chiefly on XRP, which stays ahead of Bitcoin, Ethereum (ETH0, Solana (SOL), and other altcoins, including Dogecoin (DOGE) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

This data is based on information drawn from Upbit, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the country and one of the largest in altcoin trading. The Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) also regulates the exchange. 

South Koreans Prefer XRP Over Bitcoin

That XRP is leading the pack ahead of Bitcoin contrasts with the trends in other countries, especially the United States, where most users gravitate towards the top two coins in BTC and ETH. This is based on data from Coinbase, a popular exchange in the United States whose trading volume is almost at the same level as Upbit. 

XRP-KRW trading volume on Upbit| Source: Kaiko
XRP-KRW trading volume on Upbit| Source: Kaiko

While there is a notable shift in preference, with most activity revolving around altcoins in South Korea, Bitcoin remains the largest cryptocurrency by market cap. There could be diverse reasons why the XRP-KRW pair is generating more trading volumes on Upbit than the BTC-KRW pair. However, the latter has widespread adoption, with more complex products developed over time.

XRP price on October 26| Source: XRPKRW on Upbit on TradingView
XRP price on October 26| Source: XRPKRW on Upbit on TradingView

For instance, in the United States, analysts are confident that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will eventually approve the first spot Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) in the months ahead. The eventual approval of this product hinges mainly on the issuer ensuring that there is no manipulation of the underlying token’s price from exchanges where price feeds will be aggregated. 

Combating Wash Trading, SEC Drops Lawsuit Against Ripple Executives

Over the years, exchanges have been combating wash trading and other manipulation practices that inflate the trading volume of a pair. In wash trading, a manipulator trades the same pair concurrently to create the appearance of high activity. When this is widespread, it becomes tough for users to get an accurate picture of the market.

In March 2023, Kaiko noted that South Korea’s FIU investigated several registered exchanges and found that some had insufficient internal controls. These ramps were fined up to $400,000 for abnormal transactions and asked to improve within three months.

On October 19, lawyers representing the SEC said they would be dropping all allegations against Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of Ripple, and its executive chair, Chris Larsen. The filing was made at the District Court for the Southern District of New York, which dismissed their lawsuit.

As a result, there will be no need to schedule an upcoming trial. However, it is not clear whether the regulator is also dropping its lawsuit against the blockchain company, which was filed in December 2020.

Feature image from Canva, chart from TradingView

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