Cryptocurrencies

Is Japan going to become the lead contender in cryptocurrency exchanges?

Processes have been set in motion for Yahoo Japan to begin creating it’s own cryptocurrency exchange that is set to be fully functioning by 2019.

According to local media reports from Nikkei Asian Review, the technology platform will take over 40% of Japanese exchange BitARG next month before starting steps to develop an entirely new system based on top of the original exchange.

The original BitARG exchange has been in the market for the past three years and reports to have as of date 796 clients using it’s platform. Registered with the Financial Services Agency, this also signals a further nod to an increased working relationship between cryptocurrencies and traditional regulatory bodies.

Alongside an original investment of 2 billion Yen, it is claimed by Coindesk that Yahoo Japan will push for more investments ‘as well as designing systems for corporate governance, customer management and security’ with the official launch date being penned for April next year.

The announcement comes at an interesting time for the Asian crypto-community, especially following announcements in China that have seen a fervent clampdown on exchanges and currencies alike. Within the space of this year, China attempted to ban exchanges within the country – seeing many of them head overseas and to Hong Kong – whilst also hinting at the idea of developing a state-run digital currency.  These developments have in turn opened a clear channel for Japan to take the lead amongst contending countries.

Hot on the heels of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) this won’t be the first Japanese technology giant to mark an interest in cryptocurrencies. Amidst reports from CNN, and established as one of the largest financial banks in the country, MUFG has also relayed plans and resources to develop its own cryptocurrency exchange. This, similar to China’s proposals, came quickly after the financial institution had introduced a national licensing programme to overlook the cryptocurrency market. Another Japanese banking company, SBI, was also in the running to establish a cryptocurrency exchange however was faced with criticisms from the FSB which resulted in a postponing of plans whilst the institution heightened its security protocols.

The FSA however is certainly watching. Japan was just one of a number of countries exposed to heightened controls from the body in recent months following a huge digital theft at Coincheck. Just last week, Binance was also slapped with a formal warning for operating within Japan without the correct licensing.

In terms of regulation enhancement, although Yahoo, as a platform, is often pitted below giants such as Google, the site still holds a prevalent position within Japan as well as other areas around the world. With this in mind, the status of the company will hope to add a further legitimacy to the proposed exchange. What is the most important point here is the notion that a number of Asian countries are now working alongside financial regulators, as the future points to one where cryptocurrency markets have a greater legitimacy, in cooperation with traditional bodies.  

Well there we have it. The newly proposed Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges are not the first to nod to a functioning regulatory relationship, and certainly won’t be the last. It does, however, extend another olive branch to the crypto-community and hopes of a more stable market where regulators can monitor the process of the currencies. Does this however take a step away from the decentralised appeal that underlines the essence of crypto?

About the author

Tamara Davison

The Medellin-based Mancunian started her journalism career in a London startup and has since travelled around the globe covering arts and culture news, as well as climbing the Himalayas and being lost in remote places. She claims her knowledge of Bitcoin is a healthy obsession that she picked whilst studying the fascinating repercussions new technology has around the world.

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