South Korean crypto exchange Bithumb, ranking among the biggest exchanges worldwide, is laying off over 150 employees. The move represents roughly 50 percent of Seoul-based exchange’s workforce, an official at the company confirmed the news in response to questions from CoinDesk Korea.
The staff has been cut apparently to reduce costs and better align with the pace of growth in the industry. The report also mentioned the exchange was reducing staff after trading volumes had dropped.
The company currently has a headcount of around 310 employees, spread from the UAE to London to Singapore.
In addition to a prolonged crypto winter, Bithumb has had its fair share of difficulties, even after it has secured a license to operate in South Korea, following a three-month-long investigation by the authorities. Bithumb has also suffered from numerous hacker probes in 2017 and 2018.
The exchange recorded an estimated write-down of $40 million for the funds used to compensate customers. But excluding losses incurred due to the security breach occurred in June, it should have gained $70 million in the third quarter of 2018.
Bithumb is the latest firm said to have run into financial trouble as cryptocurrency prices struggle to recover from a steep decline throughout 2018. Other cryptocurrency operators have been laying off large swathes of their workforces over the past few months as the market crash hits businesses.
Things got worse over the past few months as well, as the global authorities significantly widened their crackdown on the crypto space, putting hundreds of cryptocurrency startups at risk.
Nevertheless, South Korea’s largest crypto trading venue has recently expanded its offering with the launch of its own global decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX). The announcement comes in hot pursuit of similar initiatives by popular crypto exchanges over the last few months, including from Binance.
As regulatory pressure increases on the cryptocurrency operators, Bithumb’s move toward a decentralized environment will be implemented through an overseas subsidiary to help avoid local restrictions.