Upbit vs. Bithumb 1Q23 Comparison

Number one’s dominance expands

Published in
4 min readJun 5, 2023


Korea’s Top 2 CEXs (Dunamu = Upbit and Bithumb) disclosed their 1Q23 results on 30 May and 15 May respectively (KST).

For a comparison of the last 3Y results please refer to the following post:

1) Comparison of 1Q23’s main income statement items

  • Both posted two double-digit YoY sales declines while Bithumb’s decrease was sharper than that of Upbit (-62% vs -33%).
    In KRW terms (eliminating FX rate changes), declines were -59% and -29% respectively.
    > Bithumb’s sharper decline is quite alarming given both went through identical macro headwinds while revenue concentration is almost 100% still driven from trading commissions.
  • YoY OP declines were also double-digit with Upbit at -30% and Bithumb at -82%.
    > OP discrepancy between the two was 3.4x last year but widened to more than 13x during 1Q23.
    >> Upbit slashed fringe benefits by 97% YoY, keeping OPEX at -37% YoY, while Bithumb’s OPEX cut was “only” -19% during the same period, resulting in a large profitability gap.
  • Upbit’s 1Q23 NP increased by 41% YoY mostly from Items that are not reclassified as profit or loss, while Bithumb’s NP came in at -24%.

> The table above clearly shows Upbit’s superiority has widened coming into 1Q23.

2) Comparison of 1Q23’s main balance sheet items

Bithumb’s 1Q22 balance sheet items were not disclosed so we had to do a QoQ comparison with available numbers.

  • Except for Bithumb’s cash balance all other numbers improved QoQ for both CEXs.
  • Once again, the gap widened (slightly) as shown in the table below:

3) Digital assets owned by Upbit and Bithumb

We decided to take a deeper dive on what changed for the digital assets owned by both.

  • Except for Bithumb’s ETH, the digital asset balance of both CEXs increased in absolute number and in KRW terms with the latter driven by price recovery between 4Q22 and 1Q23.
  • Upbit still holds most of its digital asset balance in BTC (89% in 1Q23 end), whereas Bithumb’s balance is more skewed towards other altcoins (38% in 1Q23 end).
    In fact, Bithumb’s BTC balance (20%) is lower than its ETH balance (33%).
    It will be interesting to see how this position will affect each CEXs’ digital asset in KRW terms going forward whereby BTC’s strong appreciation will be more beneficial for Upbit while Bithumb will benefit more from ETH and/or alt coinprice appreciation.
  • As BTC outperformed others, Upbit’s digital asset balance (in KRW) increased by 101% QoQ, while Bithumb recorded a lower growth of 42% in 1Q23.

4) Customers’ digital assets on Upbit and Bithumb

The table above summarizes customers’ digital assets on each exchange.

A) Similarities:

  • Both exchanges recorded declines in BTC and ETH balances.
    > Whether this was a result of customers withdrawing assets to transfer them outside the exchange and/or net sold their positions cannot be determined with numbers provided above.

B) Differences:

  • Upbit users’ XRP balance increased QoQ while Bithumb users’ balance declined.
    > Whether this was a result of customers transferring XRP from Bithumb to Upbit and/or Upbit users net bought XRP (while Bithumb users net sold) cannot be determined but it is interesting to point out the difference in direction.
  • Bithumb users’ balance increased by 57% QoQ while Upbit users’ balance increased by 66% QoQ.
    > Vaguely speaking in average terms, it would be fair to say that Upbit users’ digital assets price recovery was slightly higher than their Bithumb peers.

5) Conclusion

Upbit and Bithumb were the only Korean CEXs which were obliged to report quarterly numbers while others such as Coinone, Korbit and Gopax are subject to annual reports as of now.
Nevertheless, read-across numbers from the Big 2 suggests that Upbit’s dominance in the Korean market should have widened versus last year end.

If the current macro headwind persists, it is likely that this gap will further widen as users flock to the dominant number one player instead of laggards.

Written by Eric Yoo, Co-Founder at Trinito, and contributions from Jiyon Kim.

#Upbit #Bithumb #CEX #FTX #Dunamu #Coinbase #ETH #BTC #XRP #ADA #Altcoins #Crypto #digitalassets #valuation


This is not investment advice and is for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other materials as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


Dunamu(Upbit) Quarterly Reports 1Q23:


Bithumb Quarterly Reports 1Q23: