South Korean Crypto Exchange Operator Dunamu To Invest Up To US$93M In Blockchain Startups

Dunamu, the company behind South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchange platform Upbit, announced on Monday that it is allocating as much as KRW 100 billion (US$93 million) to invest in blockchain technology in the next three years. In particular, the Kakao-backed company said it will invest in blockchain startups tackling areas that include data analytics and management, artificial intelligence and fintech via mergers and acquisitions as well as equity investment, according to a report by the Korea Herald.

A new venture capital subsidiary, provisionally named Dunamu Partners, will be set up and will be headed by Dunamu’s chief investment officer Lee Kang-jun. Lee previously worked at McKinsey Company, Softbank and Seoul-based e-commerce company Ticketmonster.

“There is high interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain in Korea. And now is a pivotal opportunity for Korea to become the global mecca of blockchain-based technologies”, Song Chi-hyung, CEO of Dunamu, said in a statement. “Through this investment, we hope to become a foothold for youths who are interested in blockchain technologies to establish and run their own startups.”

Dunamu operates Upbit and Kakao Stock, a mobile stock trading app. It received KRW 30 billion (US$27.60 million) in investment from Kakao in 2015. Upbit, which made its debut in October 2017, now claims over 1 million users and KRW 10 trillion in daily trading volume.

Dunamu has already made several investments into domestic blockchain startups. In February, it teamed up with K Cube Ventures, now known as Kakao Ventures, to invest in blockchain and gaming startup Kodebox.

Dunamu has also invested in Rootone Soft, a company preparing to launch a smart wallet service built on blockchain technology. Rootone is headed by Chang Sung-hoon, the co-founder of Lotiple, a popular platform for selling discount coupons acquired by Kakao in 2010.

South Korean Internet giant Kakao, which operates the country’s leading chat app KakaoTalk, has been aggressively making inroads into the blockchain business, announcing earlier this month plans to launch a subsidiary dedicated to blockchain and related technologies. The upcoming unit will be in charge of various blockchain projects and will be headed by Han Jae-sun, the co-founder and CTO of local startup accelerator FuturePlay.

The new subsidiary will possibly pursue a so-called “reverse initial coin offering” where an established firm raises capital by launching a new cryptocurrency.

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