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Exploring the Korean Bitcoin “Kimchi Premium”

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Korean Kimchi Premium

If you have been trading Bitcoin for over a year, you will no doubt have heard of a weird market phenomenon called the “Kimchi premium”.

This is essentially the premium that Korean traders will pay over the international price of Bitcoin.

More specifically, it is the difference between the USD equivalent of the KRW price of Bitcoin vs. the USD price of Bitcoin on an international exchange.

This premium has varied anywhere from a few percent to over 20% in periods of severe market volatility. This opens up a whole host of questions around potential “arbitrage trades” between the markets.

So, can you take advantage of the Kimchi premium? Do other local market premiums exist?

In this post, we will give you everything you need to know about the Kimchi premium as well as the potential to trade it.

Kimchi Premium Example

Before we can take examine the implications of the Kimchi premium, it helps to take a look at a practical example of it in the markets today.

At the time of this post, the price of Bitcoin on an international exchange such as the Binance exchange is currently sitting at $6,618. However, if we take a look at the price of Bitcoin on a South Korean exchange such as Bithump, it is currently 7,540,000 KRW.

The current exchange rate between the Korean Won and the USD is about 1,100 KRW/USD. This means that the price of Bitcoin on an exchange like Bithump converted into USD is $6,854. This is about a 3.5% premium over the price of Bitcoin on Binance.

While this is far from the 20% premium that we have seen in the past, a 3.5% risk free profit would entice many traders who trade arbitrage. Yet, there are a number of factors that you need to take into account before you can consider attempting to arbitrage this market.

Triangular Kimchi Arbitrage

If a trader wanted to take advantage of this Kimchi premium, then they would have to buy Bitcoin in USD, send the coins to a South Korean exchange, sell them for Korean Won and then convert them into USD. Below is an example of the triangular arbitrage nature of the trade.

Triangular Arbitrage Example with Binance and Bithump

This is a simple example of how it will work. However, there are a few things that you should consider that could reduce the potential gains. These are fees, both on the exchange side as well as the fiat banking side. There is also the added scrutiny that comes from fiat currency exchange controls.

In terms of fees, there is likely to be a Bitcoin network fee as well as a withdrawal fee from Bithump. Then, when you try to send the funds abroad, you are likely to encounter more fees on the purchase of USD (rate above is spot) as well as international wiring fees.

When all of these fees are added up, it is likely that the Kimchi premium will be greatly reduced.

Another really important consideration is the requirements in order to obtain an exchange account and bank account in South Korea. There is no doubt that they will want to see proof of residency for the applicant.

So, unless you happen to have access to both a South Korean trading and Bank account, then you may find it difficult to ever place an arbitrage trade on the Kimchi premium.

However, I have observed similar market premiums on a number of other local currency exchanges in the past. I have seen premiums between the USD and the EUR, AUD, CAD, JPY and ZAR prices on these exchanges.

All that is required is you to observe the USD equivalent of the different currency prices for Bitcoin on Coinmarketcap. Interestingly enough, the South Korean exchanges have actually been removed from these calculations given the pricing distortion they had on prices in the past.

In order for you to make the most of these local market premiums, you have to understand why they are present.

Why Do they Exist?

Arbitrage opportunities exist in the Bitcoin markets because of the varying degrees of local supply / demand vs the demand on international markets. There could be specific reasons that an individual country has such high demand for Bitcoin

In the case of Kimchi premium, it is well known that South Korean users are much more bullish than their counterparts in other countries. This excessive demand will drive up the price of Bitcoin in Korean Won.

Taking a look at a more extreme example, you have the case of Zimbabwe.

Prices for Bitcoin in Zimbabwe have exceeded the international price by over 60% in the past. Bitcoin is so highly prized in Zimbabwe because of the hyper inflation that is currently gripping the country. The same can be said for other countries such as Venezuela or Argentina currently.

A 100 Trillian Bank Note in Zimbabwe. Source: citeco.fr

These premiums also exist because they are hard to take advantage of. For example, it would be very hard to use any traditional banking in countries such as Zimbabwe or Venezuela to take advantage of the premium. Who would trust their fiat money in a country where the inflation rate tops 100,000%?

There are also a number of countries that have exchange control limits on their citizens. On the individual level, these are likely to be quite low which means that eventually you will be stopped from converting your local currency for USD.

In the more secure western countries, the premium may still exist merely because there is not enough money pursuing the trade. This is the more favourable position to be in and it means that you as an individual have a slight advantage over larger hedge funds and institutional money managers.

These established markets with developed banking infrastructure are the most likely place for you to try and take advantage of these opportunities.

Conclusion

While markets have fallen considerably over the past few months, so has the Kimchi premium. This is probably as a result of South Korean trader’s lack of appetite for Bitcoin currently.

However, this is likely to turn the moment that the next Bitcoin bull market rolls in. South Korean traders will feel a great sense of FOMO and the local demand for Bitcoin is likely to increase.

As the Bitcoin markets are still relatively unexplored by large financial institutions, pricing inefficiencies are likely to remain along with the Kimchi premium.

Featured Image via Fotolia

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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5 stars on average, based on 5 rated postsNic is an ex Investment Banker and current crypto enthusiast. When he is not sitting behind six screens trading Bitcoin, he is maintaining his numerous mining rigs.




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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Daniel Won

    September 26, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Premium still exists in some cases and sometimes even more than 20%. Try 10x / 1000% instead (Augur was trading for this premium on Bithumb ~a few weeks ago, might still be)

    However, in the above example, Bithumb blocked deposits on all coins/tokens with insane arbitrage opportunities like that

    Though for the determined individual, I’m sure there’s a way to figure it out

    “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”

    • Nic Puckrin

      September 27, 2018 at 4:29 am

      Wow, a premium that high!

      The problem is that even if you are to make a profit for a few trades, there is a $50k individual limit on sending funds out if I believe. So you can’t make your fiat profit.

      Either way though, a few grand for a “risk-free” trade is juicy 🙂

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Altcoins

Stellar Lumens Quietly Leads Crypto Market Recovery as Fidelity Rumors Circulate

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Stellar Lumens has put up double-digit gains over the past week, buoyed by improving fundamentals and rumors of a potential partnership with Fidelity Investments.

XLM/USD Update

The XLM price experienced little movement on Sunday, as the overall market made tepid gains. At the time of writing, XLM was down 0.8% at $0.2415. Against bitcoin, the cryptocurrency was down 2%, according to CoinMarketCap.

Compared with seven days ago, XLM has gained more than 13%. Lumens peaked near $0.2500 on Saturday. Over the same period, the broader cryptocurrency market rose 4%. Bitcoin is up just 3.4% over the same period while Ethereum gained 3.7%.

At current values, the Stellar blockchain has a total market capitalization of $4.6 billion. Trade volumes in the last 24 hours reached $48.1 million. Binance, BitMart and BCEX are the largest markets for XLM trades, according to the latest available data.

This isn’t the first time XLM has outperformed the broader market. Lumens managed to hold its ground during the mid-August slump, a period that was associated with a 21% drop in Ethereum and a nearly 40% plunge in IOTA.

Fidelity Rumors Circulate

The latest upsurge in Stellar’s price follows speculation that Fidelity Investments may consider adopting the XLM blockchain for its digital asset business. The speculation is tied to Tom Jessop, a Fidelity executive who used to run a promising blockchain startup by the name of Chain. The Chain project was recently acquired by the Stellar Development Corporation. Following the merger, the Stellar Development Corporation re-branded as Interstellar.

From an institutional standpoint, Fidelity is considered an early adopter of cryptocurrency. The asset manager has been mining cryptocurrency for the past four years and recently announced plans to develop a new suite of blockchain-focused products.

Stellar has been subject to other positive speculation in recent months as large corporations seek entry into the blockchain arena. In August, Business Insider speculated that Facebook was eyeing a potential partnership with Stellar. Although Facebook denied the rumors, there’s strong reason to believe that the social media network will soon enter the blockchain arena, which makes Stellar a prime candidate for adoption.

Last month, IBM announced it had officially launched its new money transfer business on the Stellar protocol in a move that could springboard digital currency adoption across the globe. IBM Blockchain World Wire, as the system is known, utilizes Stellar to settle cross-border transactions in a matter of seconds.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 649 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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Altcoins

Ravencoin (RVN) Arrives With 118% Weekly Growth Ahead of Mainnet Launch

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Ravencoin (RVN) made its entry into the market cap top one-hundred on Sunday, propelled by a Binance listing, and 118% sustained growth over the course of the week.

Trade volumes for the asset-creation coin hit all-time highs on Thursday, rising an incredible 23,000% from $212,000 to $49 million within the space of ten days.

Ravencoin has been around since 2017, and the upcoming mainnet launch on October 31st marks the one year anniversary of the coin’s creation. It also marks the ten year anniversary of the release of the Bitcoin whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto.

RVN Rising

Ravencoin was going relatively unnoticed until it gained a Binance listing on October 11th. As you can see from the chart below, the Binance listing completely changed the coin’s fortunes.

Indeed, if we look at the source of today’s $49 million worth of trades we see that Binance has housed just under 85% of the total.

In the past week the coin rose 118% in value, climbing from $0.017300 up to Sunday’s peak of $0.037732. Since the date of the Binance listing the coin is up 172% in value, and finds itself among the market cap top-eighty.

What Is Ravencoin?

The Ravencoin protocol is open-source and available to the public, and focuses on the creation of digital assets on its Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain.

The blockchain itself is secured by sixteen different hashing algorithms, all of which are rotated on a non-patterned basis. The algorithm changes depending on the final digits in the preceding block hash, making it impossible to predict by ASIC mining machines.

As stated in the initial release notes last year:

“The core developers are currently focused on building the asset layer which will allow Ravencoin to facilitate the transfer of assets.  There is a hard-fork planned for the network to implement this additional asset layer in around October/November 2018 time frame.”

The devs appear to have held true to that time frame, and the mainnet upgrade is expected to go ahead as planned on October 31st.

The release notes state that no premine was used, nor are there any developer rewards. The blockchain is intended to be a Bitcoin for digital asset creation, and according to the official documentation:

“Assets can come in a variety of types, such as financial instruments such as security tokens/stocks/bonds/deeds/etc as well as gaming items (ex. a sword)/conventional asset management/managing  distributions for co-ops/digital art. There are a lot of real-world applications that this blockchain is intended to disrupt and improve.”

More can be read about the coin’s unique hashing algorithm, known as X16R, in the dedicated whitepaper provided in the Ravencoin release.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 82 rated postsGreg Thomson is a full-time crypto writer and digital nomad. He eats ICOs for breakfast and bleeds altcoins. Wherever he lays his public key is his home.




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Altcoins

Minor Bounce Lifts Crypto Market Cap Above $211 Billion; Tether Circulation Plummets

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Crypto prices traded modestly higher on Sunday, as bitcoin regained its footing above $6,500 and major altcoins avoided further losses.

Market Update

The cryptocurrency market capitalization on Sunday peaked at $212 billion, the highest in five days. At the time of writing, the market was valued at $211.5 billion.

Most assets ranked in the top-20 had reported minor gains over the last 24 hours, a period marked by lower trade volumes. The bitcoin price has returned above $6,500 on trade volumes of just $3.2 billion. The leading digital currency continues to trade at a premium on Bitfinex.

Meanwhile, Ethereum rose half a percent to $206. XRP also climbed 0.5% to $0.459. Bitcoin cash was last seen trading above $449 for a gain of 1.6%.

Stellar XLM was the only top-ten coin not to report gains at the time of writing. However, the no. 6 coin by market cap has returned more than 13% over the past week, far outpacing the broader market.

Trade volumes have declined steadily over the past week, as markets re-balanced following a sudden spike on Oct. 15. Digital exchange volumes have fallen to $9.7 billion on Sunday, according to CoinMarketCap.

Tether Market Cap Plunges

Since the start of October, Tether has pulled more than $600 million worth of USDT out of circulation, leading to a sharp drop in the stablecoin’s market cap. Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex, which is run by the same executive in charge of Tether Limited, appears to be leading in the offload of USDT tokens. As CCN recently reported, Bitfinex has initiated six transfers of USDT funds to the Tether Treasury this month. The latest transfer was initiated on Wednesday when Bitfinex sent 50 million USDT to the Treasury.

Most of the outflows from Bitfinex occurred long before USDT lost its peg to the dollar in a single-day crash on Oct. 15. USDT briefly fell below $0.90 that day before quickly recovering around $0.94. Currently, one USDT is equivalent to $0.984 U.S., according to CoinMarketCap. Some exchanges are quoting USDT as low as $0.96 on Sunday.

The sudden decline in Tether’s circulation comes at a time when the company is facing heightened scrutiny over its dollar-backed reserves. An influx of alternative stablecoins offering greater transparency and regulatory oversight may also be undercutting demand for USDT.

Case in point: the Gemini Exchange’s GUSD stablecoin reached a high of $1.19 on Tuesday before settling around parity against the dollar. Unlike USDT, the Gemini Dollar has obtained regulatory approval from the New York Department of Financial Services. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Tether has been subpoenaed by federal regulators over its connection with Bitfinex and failure to prove its dollar reserves.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 649 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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