Several Japanese forex brokers are launching cryptocurrency exchanges for bitcoins and other virtual currencies. According to a report of Nikkei Asian Review, among them are the parent of Japan’s largest forex broker GMO Securities – GMO Internet, as well as Money Partners Group and Kabu.com Securities.
On the other hand, SBI Holdings, a partner in the SBI Ripple Asia blockchain consortium of major Asian banks, has already set up SBI Virtual Currencies – the first bank-backed cryptocurrency exchange in Japan.
According to the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association, quoted by the publication, around 18 companies are planning to apply for a cryptocurrency exchange license, as per the legal requirements that came into effect in April. Of them, according to Nikkei Asian Review, around 10 are new to the cryptocurrency market.
Among those planning to apply, are Japan’s existing cryptocurrency exchange bitFlyer and Singapore’s Quoine, but Japan’s three largest banks – MUFJ (it was planning to issue own cryptocurrency), Mizuho and SMBC – are not planning to join the hype. On the other hand, there are several other local cryptocurrency exchanges like Zaif and Fisco and global ones, like Kraken, Bitfinex and BTCC.
At the same time, those same amendments, which were passed last year, but only came into effect this April, legally classified Bitcoin as a recognized method of payment. Since then Japanese retailers have slowly started accepting Bitcoin as a “proper” currency. According to some estimates, by this summer over 260 000 shops in the country would start accepting Bitcoin as payment.
The surging popularity of Bitcoin in Japan, has been the main driver behind the recent historical high of $1463 for 1 BTC on May 3, which is the highest exchange rate since the cryptocurrency was launched in 2008. Analyses of the site CyrptoCompare have shown that more than 50% of the deals with Bitcoin in the week preceding this high were against the Japanese Yen, which can be explained with the increasing interest in Japan.