SEI sees trading spike centered in South Korea


Quick Take

  • Sei’s token started trading on Tuesday following the blockchain’s mainnet launch.
  • Arbitrage opportunities emerged today with significant pricing gaps between Korean and global exchanges.

SEI, the native token of the blockchain by the same name, experienced a spike in trading centered in South Korea today — where local cryptocurrency exchanges Upbit and Bithumb recorded hundreds of millions of dollars in daily volume.

SEI’s price climbed 24.5% in the past 24 hours following the Tuesday launch of the Layer 1 blockchain’s mainnet, according to data from CoinGecko.

While many global exchanges, including Binance and Coinbase, have listed the token, South Korean exchanges appear to have drawn in the heaviest trading volume over the past 24 hours. CoinGecko data showed that Upbit recorded $560.1 million in 24-hour trading volume for its SEI-KRW trading pair — the most traded pair for the day. Binance’s SEI-USDT pair came in second with $160.3 million in 24-hour volume, followed by Bithumb’s $67.7 million for its SEI-KRW pair.

Notably, there was, at one point, a significant price gap between SEI on Korean exchanges and their global rivals — a phenomenon known as the "kimchi premium" that has previously been seen in BTC and other cryptocurrencies. The price of SEI on Upbit stood at $0.528121 around noon Asia time, while that on Binance it was priced at $0.232585. The gap, however, narrowed on Wednesday afternoon.

Sei gaining traction in Korea

“The chain’s degen-focused online community seems to have connected particularly with the South Korean retail market, with trading surging on local exchanges Bithumb and Upbit,” Jeff Mei, chief operating officer at crypto exchange BTSE, told The Block. “In fact, Upbit’s general trading volumes surpassed those of Coinbase and OKX in July this year, indicating resilient crypto trading activity in the Korean market.”

Mei said that investors were also seeing arbitrage opportunities as SEI prices differed across exchanges. “This is possibly due to market maker activities leading to uneven liquidity distribution, a phenomenon we often see on exchanges when trading spikes on a given token. This is likely to settle once the market finds a price,” he added.

Justin d'Anethan, head APAC business development at Keyrock, told The Block that most investors are starved for volatility in the current trading environment, and “it seems the narrative put on SEI as a potential new SOL and a real contender to SUI is enough to garner all the attention.”

“Because of the well-known capital control and restrictions when it comes to trading crypto in Korea, the infamous 'kimchi premium’ is appearing, with a wide spread between onshore ($0.5) and offshore pricing ($0.2),” d'Anethan said.

“It's likely that after the jitters that usually follow a new listing, the volatility and volumes around the token will cool down but, as long as it remains the 'new' thing to trade, we'll continue to see the arbitrage opportunity between Korean and international venues,” d'Anethan added. 

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