One of the world’s third-largest pension funds, South Korea’s National Pension Service, has made an unexpected move by significantly investing in Coinbase shares.
This move was disclosed in the latest holdings report submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday. The report revealed that the pension fund purchased $19.9 million worth of shares in Coinbase in the third quarter of the year.
The disclosed report outlines that South Korea’s National Pension Service acquired a total of 282,673 shares of Coinbase Global in 2023. This move is noteworthy as it marks the pension fund’s first inclusion of a crypto-related security in its investment portfolio.
Coinbase is a prominent cryptocurrency firm that operates a secure online platform for buying, selling, transferring, and storing various cryptocurrencies.
Founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, Coinbase is currently the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States in terms of trading volume.
The company’s mission is to create an open financial system for the world and to be the leading global brand for helping people convert crypto into and out of their local currency.
Coinbase offers an easy-to-use interface that allows individuals to buy and sell crypto in just a few clicks, making it accessible for individuals new to cryptocurrency.
It supports over 120 different types of cryptocurrencies, including popular coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana. Additionally, Coinbase provides services for institutional customers through platforms like Coinbase Prime.
Legacy institutions in crypto
With assets under management surpassing $755 billion, the fund’s investment in Coinbase reflects the growing interest of traditional finance entities in the cryptocurrency industry, marking a significant development in their approach to the digital asset sector.
Several legacy financial institutions have also invested in the crypto industry. For example, Traditional American banks such as U.S. Bank, BNY Mellon, State Street, and Northern Trust have begun offering crypto custodial accounts.
Signature Bank, a New York-based bank, held $10 billion in crypto deposits by January 2021 and became one of the major legacy institutions to embrace crypto.
South Korea and crypto
South Korea has become a major player in the crypto industry. According to a report by South Korea’s National Tax Service, South Korean investors and corporations hold over 131 trillion Korean won (US$97.9 billion) worth of cryptocurrencies in overseas accounts, which is 70% of the total reported financial assets held by South Koreans overseas.
Approximately 2 million people, accounting for 3.9% of South Korea’s total population, currently own cryptocurrency, and nearly 30% of all crypto trading worldwide is powered within the Korean market. South Korea is home to exchange giants like Upbit, BitHumb, CoinOne, Korbit, and Gopax.
The country has also seen a recent rally in the digital asset market, with South Korean retail investors finding the biggest leverage opportunity in crypto, especially altcoins.
In November 2023, cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb announced plans to go public in its native South Korea, aiming to list on Kosdaq, the South Korean counterpart to Nasdaq, during the second half of 2025.