OKEx Korea released a statement on Tuesday saying customers must withdraw their fiat and crypto funds before Apr. 7, at which time the exchange will shut down permanently.
OKEx Closure Part of a Wider Problem
The exchange did not give a reason for the sudden closure. However, new Korean legislation is likely the issue. From Mar. 25 onwards, Korean crypto exchanges will no longer share order books with each other, creating potentially major liquidity problems for smaller exchanges.
Binance Korea shut down earlier this year after Binance’s expansion in the area.
“After the end of the service, OKEx Korea will not be held liable for any losses arising from failure to withdrawal by customers,” said OKEx Korea.
OKEx Korea itself only had $3.5 million in trading volume in the last 24 hours, a relatively small sum. However, Korea is home to many smaller exchanges that may now be forced out due to the new laws.
Rival exchange Huobi Korea may also suffer liquidity problems come Thursday, and the new legislation may impact the $2 billion deal for Morgan Stanley to buy Korean exchange Bithumb as well.
South Korea was the third-largest market for crypto in the world in 2019 and remains a major player to this day. However, the country has always had strict regulations when it comes to digital assets.
The latest decision from Korean regulators indicates that while crypto may have become mainstream, the laws surrounding its trade are only getting tighter.
Disclosure: The author held Bitcoin at the time of writing