[THE INVESTOR] BTC Korea, operator of Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, is paring down its workforce as the market is showing no signs of an upturn, according to industry sources on Jan. 17.
Once the largest crypto exchanges in the country, Bithumb has retrenched 30 employees, accounting for about 10 percent of its workforce. The company offered retirement packages that included support to help them change jobs.
Passengers look at the price board of cryptocurrencies in front of Bithumb’s customer service center in Gwanghwamun on Jan. 9. The center was closed on Jan. 11.
“The program is not only because we are undergoing difficulties, although it’s true that the market isn’t doing so well,” an official at the company said. “But yes, we thought it best to have a fresh start since our transaction volume is decreasing.”
When the crypto market was booming last year on high-flying digital currency prices, the company saw its revenue skyrocket. BTC Korea’s net profit stood at 417 billion won (US$371 million) in 2017, and it went on a hiring binge. As of last year, the staff ballooned to 330 from the initial 20. But in the first half of that year net profit shrank to 39.3 billion won. The firm also closed one of its four offline branches this month.
Once at a peak of over 20 million won, the price of Bitcoin now lingers at around 4 million won. Trading volume has also plummeted to one-20th of its highest, weighing down on the operations of crypto exchanges.
“The sentiments of the crypto industry are contracting and revenue has also decreased,” said an employee at another digital currency exchange on the condition of anonymity. “The future is unpredictable.”
By Park Ga-young (email@example.com