Local media recently reported that Bithumb, one of South Korea’s most prominent exchanges, has announced plans to make a move on the Japanese and Thai markets.Korea-Based Exchange Eyes New MarketsIn an exclusive with ZDNet Korea, Bithumb has announced that it plans to open operations in Japan and Thailand after receiving the required regulatory approval from local governments.The exchange is currently working with the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) and the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission to secure permission to operate in these markets. Bithumb has already established branches in the two countries, with Bithumb Thai currently holding 3 million Thai Baht (~$90,000 U.S. Dollars) to its name.The Korean exchange gave ZDNet some reasoning for the move to Thailand, stating:“Thailand is active in e-commerce and pin-tec industry, and the government is showing great interest in digital currency as it promotes smart city business.”It is expected that Bithumb will open Thai operations prior to Japanese operations, with trading commencing as soon as the end of October.Following the hack of CoinCheck in January, Japan’s FSA deemed that it was necessary to tighten the freedom which exchanges held, imposing stricter rules and regulatory advisories. Some of the notable new rules include a comprehensive crackdown on privacy-centric cryptocurrencies and a mandatory cold storage requirement, as the regulatory body referenced the CoinCheck debacle.Despite harsh regulation, Bithumb is still moving forward with the Japan subsidiary, proposing to open an exchange in Japan come February 2019. The exchange will not be any ordinary platform, with the local news source noting that Bithumb “plans to set up an exchange that supports the largest number of coins (cryptocurrencies) in Japan.”Post-Hack Bithumb Bounces BackNewsBTC recently reported that Bithumb had fell victim to a security breach, losing millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies in an attack on Bithumb-owned hot wallets. Despite being met with outrage from the community, as cryptocurrency values took a three percent stumble, the exchange took the hack in stride, quickly amending the issue.After the attack, the Korean platform divulged plans to reimburse customers affected by the hack, also claiming to have recuperated half of the funds lost in the hack, with the recovered amount totaling to nearly $16 million in an assortment of cryptocurrencies.Despite addressing the situation professionally, the recent expansion plans left some wondering, is now really the best time for a recently-hacked exchange to move into new markets?It has become apparent that Bithumb still aspires to become a global platform for cryptocurrency-related services in the face of a hack.As a result, the exchange also stated that it still has eyes on other markets, including a variety of countries with established names in the cryptocurrency industry. In an earlier release, Bithumb stated:“Bithumb is preparing exchange platforms for countries under the global expansion plan and we are looking for great and potential partners worldwide… The exchange platforms under final development stages are USD / JYP / EUR / CNY / INR / GBP / AUD / CAD / PHP / RUB and [there] will be more soon when there are any service demands.”The company did not give any timelines for the pending releases of the aforementioned platforms, but it is likely that they will come within the upcoming months.Japan Cryptocurrency Market Sees Interest ContinueDespite being hailed as one of the Bitcoin ‘capitals’ of the world, Japan is continuing to see interest in its cryptocurrency userbase increase. Early in June, Coinbase announced that it will be joining the Japanese market, with fintech expert Neo Kitazawa heading the new platform.Coinbase made it clear that it had not obtained the required licenses as of yet, but that it will be working with regulators to eventually get the go-ahead.The Canadian Coinsquare exchange has also just announced that it will be moving into the Japanese market, securing a strategic partnership with a “global blockchain investment bank.” Coinsquare noted that it will be providing infrastructure for the new exchange, while DLTa21, the exchange’s partner firm, will work with regulators to ensure a seamless move into Japan.Although the three aforementioned moves come over a month apart, one thing remains clear, regulatory approval was stressed as a priority with these forays into Japan. Image from Shutterstock

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