Japan seems to have Bitcoin fever these days. Trading volume is growing exponentially in the region and organizations across the land are investing in this new technology. Now the Japanese blockchain firm TechBureau, who maintains one of Japan’s largest Bitcoin exchanges, Zaif, has just raised ¥720m or $6.5 million USD. As well as this significant investment announcement in the Japanese blockchain industry there is active fintech news coming from the region nearly every day.
“Not only are we seeing a massive growth of Bitcoin adoption and media coverage here but also Japan has turned into a very interesting place for Bitcoin 2.0 experiments and the token economy.” ~ Koji Higashi, Counterparty Foundation
TechBureau Receives $6.5 Million in a Series A Funding Round
In the latest announcement, TechBureau details the allottees include many of the Japanese fintech and venture capital firms in the region. The investors mentioned include the internet company and Q&A platform OKWave, Nippon Technology, Arara, Hiroshima Venture Capital; and FISCO. The funding round also attracted a prior investor, Money Partners Group that injected ¥49 million into the company.
TechBureau’s exchange Zaif has said it has “set record Bitcoin trading volumes” in April and continues to grow. The firm also owns the permissioned blockchain startup Mijin, which wants enterprises everywhere to adopt its distributed ledger technology. Mijin believes it will enable “financial institutions to reduce infrastructure costs by up to 1000% by 2018.” TechBureau will use the capital to expand both Zaif and Mijin on a global level.
Japan Has Two Blockchain Associations
With blockchain fever in Japan, the country’s fintech leaders, executives and intellectuals are forming associations. One such group is theBlockchain Collaborative Consortium (BCC) which consists of 34 companies working together to establish industry standards.
This April, the former Japan Association of Digital Asset (JADA) changed its focus to distributed ledger technologies. With this new agenda, the group has rebranded into the Japan Blockchain Association (JBA). The organization is also made up of industry innovators and leaders from a broad range of Japanese businesses.
Bitcoin is Set to Explode in Japan
A recent Medium blog post by Counterparty’s Koji Higashi he explains that Bitcoin is about to explode in Japan. Higashi states, “not only are we seeing a massive growth of Bitcoin adoption and media coverage here but also Japan has turned into a very interesting place for Bitcoin 2.0 experiments and the token economy.”
Then, on the weekend of May 7-8, it was reported that Japan had the world’s second-highest volume of BTC trades. A picture of this evidence was uploaded to Imgur that weekend and LocalBitcoins has seen many spikes in transactions as well over the course of 2016. Another interesting side note is according to Coin ATM Radar the country also has the most active Bitcoin ATM’s in Asia totalling 13 in the region. The wallet startup IndieSquare has also seen a significant amount of popularity in the area with over 50% of users being Japanese.
Japanese Government Set to Define and Regulate Bitcoin
Throughout March and April, the Japanese government has been working on a regulatory framework for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Three days ago, theJapan Times reported that cryptocurrency operators in the industry were waiting for the legitimacy of the new policies. The new regulations will be similar to the western hemisphere’s version of KYC/AML standards, and exchanges will have to follow the laws accordingly.
The Japanese Cabinet has given approval to many of the standards proposed. Because of the failure of the Japanese Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox the government will be monitoring and supervising cryptocurrency operations. Alongside strict supervision officials are saying, they will treat the virtual money as a currency which sets a legal definition to Bitcoin. Yuzo Kano, CEO of Tokyo-based startup bitFlyer is hopeful the regulations will bring a broader sense of trust to the cryptocurrency industry. Kano tells the Japan Times:
“It will help improve the trust in the virtual currency. I am hoping the new rules will stimulate the growth of the industry,” ~ Yuzo Kano, bitFlyer
Japanese Startups and Established Bitcoin Businesses Are Blossoming
There’s been a lot of action in Japan with companies like OkWave,coincheck, bitFlyer, and more bringing Bitcoin solutions to the masses.Coincheck has recently helped facilitate the entertainment firm DMM so it can accept the cryptocurrency. This has established the ability for 19 million users to be able to spend Bitcoin on the vast array of products the company offers.
Japan-based bitFlyer was founded in 2014, and has been making moves across the region as well with its exchange and marketplace. The company has raised an astounding $34 million USD in six funding rounds from investors such as the Digital Currency Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital.
Alongside the growth of these companies, the largest question and answer platform OkWave touts over 40 million users that are enabled to use Bitcoin services on the platform. The site now has a Bitcoin wallet system integrated into the website’s user interface and a tipping application when users provide quality feedback. Located in Shibuya, Tokyo OkWave’s CEO Kanemoto Kaneto said his company was proud to enable the utilization of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is Shining in the Land of the Rising Sun
The exponential growth of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology solutions in Japan is hard not to notice these days. In fact, at the rate it’s going it may be a country that competes with the Bitcoin behemoth China, who has quite the establishment of miners and exchanges within the region. Adoption and usage of the cryptocurrency currently dominate in the U.S., China, and quite a bit of the European Union. However, Japan is now showing thay it wants to be in the thick of things when it comes to Bitcoinland.
Images via coincheck, the Blockchain Collaborative Consortium, Crypto-graphics.com, Mijin, and Pixabay.