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Move over Switzerland and Singapore, exchanges are making a beeline for Japan in the wake of new clarity surrounding the country’s regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA,) told Bitcoin News that 110 crypto exchanges had approached the regulator with a view to launching in Japan. The reason? In May 2019, the country passed a new cryptocurrency bill that gave clear direction on “transferring crypto assets, income taxes, and income related transactions using digital currencies."
This marks a change in the wind for Japan and its exchanges. In 2017, 16 exchanges were approved by the Japanese regulator. But in 2018, all licenses were refused after leading exchange Coincheck suffered an record-breaking hack leading to the loss of $534 million worth of NEM. In 2019, the Authority introduced new legislation that allowed on-site inspections of exchanges, and has, thus far, granted licenses to three exchanges. Many more are soon to follow.
Among the hopefuls waiting in line for regulatory approval is the LINE Cooperation, the owner of Japan's most popular messaging app Line. The company is reportedly close to obtaining a license for its exchange, Bitbox, which operates worldwide except for the U.S. and Japan.
Japan was one of the world’s early pioneers when it came to crypto. In as early as 2017, it legalized cryptocurrency as a medium of payment, and was one of the first countries to bring regulation to bear on the industry. After the freeze on new exchanges in 2018 however, other countries quickly caught up. But the cautious approach seems to have paid dividends.
A recent study has shown that the country is now second only to the U.S. in driving traffic to worldwide exchanges. And the Japanese yen, paired with various cryptocurrencies—such as BCH and BTC, has been climbing steadily, demonstrating the demand for digital assets.
Japan it seems, is back.