A golden opportunity just opened up for cryptocurrency traders.
The price of bitcoin is trading at a big premium in South Korea relative to US markets, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The price of bitcoin is trading close to $11,800 a coin on Upbit and Bithumb, the two main South Korean exchanges. That’s more than 13% higher than the price on GDAX, the US exchange operated by cryptocurrency company Coinbase.
Such price differences are a darling of so-called arbitrage traders who can buy up the coin where it’s trading lower and then sell where it’s trading higher, and pocket the difference. The spread between different exchanges has tightened since the beginning of the new year, but bullish news in South Korea appears to have pushed its market higher.
“While the threat of heavy regulation, or even a total ban on exchange trading, has hovered over bitcoin in recent weeks, reports this morning that the South Korean government are softening their stance have given traders confidence to buy,” Dennis de Jong, a managing director at UFX.com, a brokerage, told Reuters.
To be sure, taking advantage of price difference between exchanges in different countries is easier said than done.
As noted by Bloomberg, South Korea’s regulators require residents to file extensive paperwork to move more than $50,000 per year outside the country. Still, traders are a crafty bunch. Bloomberg outlined one trader’s strategy that “involves buying ether in Korea, transfering it to an offshore venue, exchanging it for bitcoin, transferring the bitcoin back to Korea, and cashing out.”
Still, the strategy is only profitable if ether is trading at a smaller premium relative to bitcoin’s premium.