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World’s Fifth Largest Bank Joins Crypto Space with Digital Yen

Japan’s Mitsibushi UFC Financial group (MUFG), the world’s fifth-largest bank by assets, has announced it will trial its own digital currency as early as 2019, reports Cointelegraph.

The move, which dates back as far as 2016, sees the Japanese giant running out the coin, valued at one yen, to 100,000 account holders, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.  The bank suggests that its MUFG coin will be usable in a number of retail outlets, bars, and restaurants, and will also be transferable to other participant’s accounts.

MUFG will be checking to see that it’s all working as intended and that settlements are carried out smoothly and securely. It is reportedly broadening the pilot by offering the currency to a variety of businesses in order to expand the test.

Japan has seen increased interest in digital currency from some of the country’s largest cooperations, with DMM’s announcement that it was ready to trade in cryptocurrency and, most significantly, Yahoo Japan’s announced 40% stake in BitARG, planned for later this year. The deal, worth between USD 18.5 million and USD 27.8 million, allows BitARG to operate a domestic trading platform under FSA rules, making it a viable investment opportunity for Yahoo.

The Japanese Central Bank continues to be wary of cryptocurrency, with numerous warnings issued to customers regarding the perils of dabbling in digital currency, even issuing a negative Q and A for customers earlier in the year in order to test public knowledge and warn about the risks of crime.

Also Japan-based global investment bank Nomura has just announced its latest project; to establish a custody offering for digital assets.  The new project aims at removing barriers to institutional cryptocurrency investment.

Although news regarding large banks like MUFG and companies such as Yahoo walking the crypto path serves to give some extra legitimacy to the Japanese cryptocurrency market, there are still those who feel the ethos of the industry has been somewhat altered. Many crypto enthusiasts feel that the creation of Bitcoin was a positive step towards bypassing the monopoly of institution banking after the financial turmoil of 2008.

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Japanese Crypto Enquiries Tripled in 2017

Figures released after the second cryptocurrency exchange group this year hosted by Japan’s FSA on 27 April show a tripling of cryptocurrency enquiries since the same time last year.

The first such meeting which took place last month revealed that there were 3.5 million now trading in cryptocurrency in Japan. These new figures confirm the massive spike in interest in digital currencies over the course of the last year.

Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA), which compiled the figures, said that 2,769 domestic enquiries were filed in 2017 on topics related to cryptocurrencies, whereas the previous year the total was only 847. However, the agency confirmed that many of the enquiries were concerned with exchange platforms’ security and the legitimacy of certain ICOs. Most of the enquiries were from the 40s to 50s age group although there was only a slightly lower percentage in other age groups. Some calls were even from parents with concerns for their teenage children using cryptocurrency.

The release of this data by the FSA, after two meetings of the exchange group, is the agency’s latest move to bring greater transparency to Japan’s burgeoning cryptocurrency environment. According to it, study and disclosure of domestic trading statistics is a step towards a thorough examination of Japanese cryptocurrency trading. It represents a significant move in light of the recent hacking of domestic exchange Coincheck on 26 January, during which 526 million XEM tokens worth USD 400 million was stolen.

Forbes reports that the FSA has recently taken another step towards preventing such hacking events by encouraging cryptocurrency exchanges to give up handling Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC), and Dash and other anonymous cryptocurrencies favored by hackers.

Japan’s licensed cryptocurrency exchanges have also recently formed a self-regulatory body that will have enforcement power over its members. The organization would be able to create a whitelist of favourable exchanges while being able to pressure exchanges into delisting any cryptocurrencies the FSA might regard as suspect.

image source: https://pixabay.com/en/question-mark-pile-question-mark-2492009/ – qimino

 

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Japan Crypto Traders Soar Past 3 Million

Individual cryptocurrency traders in Japan now exceed three million according to the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) figures just released.

The figures represent domestic data recorded from 17 cryptocurrency exchanges as of 31 March this year; the first time that the FSA has made such a survey since its founding in 2000. The agency reported that the Asian economic giant has some 3.5 million people trading cryptocurrency, with those between the ages of 20 and 40 representing 90% of the crypto trading population.

The FSA is a Japanese government agency and an integrated financial regulator responsible for overseeing banking, securities and exchange, and insurance sectors in order to ensure the stability of Japan’s financial system.

The release of this data is the agency’s latest move to bring greater transparency to Japan’s burgeoning cryptocurrency environment. According to FSA, study and disclosure of domestic trading statistics is a step towards a thorough examination of Japanese cryptocurrency trading. It represents a significant move in light of the recent hacking of domestic exchange Coincheck on 26 January, during which 526 million XEM tokens worth USD 400 million was stolen.

Following the hack, Coincheck’s Koichiro Wada reflected on Japan’s need for more skilled professionals: “We were aware we didn’t have enough people working on internal checks, management and system risk… in many ways the industry continues to deal with its ramifications”.

The new data also reveals the split between trading in Bitcoin and the practice of trading on Bitcoin margins, credit, and futures as an underlying asset. Actual Bitcoin trading volume grew from USD 22 million in March 2014 to USD 97 billion in 2017, whereas the more speculative forms of trading rocketed from USD 2 million in 2014 to a huge USD 543 billion in 2017 alone.

The number of Japanese stores that accepted Bitcoin as payment stood at 52,190 at the end of March, while only 80 stores accepted Ether.

 

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Yahoo! Japan to Launch Crypto Exchange

Yahoo! Japan has acquired 40% of the already well-established local exchange BitARG, hoping to open a full-scale exchange operation within 12 months.

All set to roll out in April 2019, the new exchange will be built upon the BitARG system. Yahoo! Japan is set to make additional purchases in BitARG, which will register with the Financial Service Agency (FSA), early 2019.

Yahoo! Japan made the purchase through Tokyo’s YJFX, a foreign exchange transaction subsidiary that operates foreign exchange transactions services. Its cost has been reported to be JPY 2 billion (USD 19 million) for a 40% stake in BitARG. Newly-issued stock has been purchased to cover any outstanding shares.

YJFX has already planned the next stage of this business execution, sending executives and engineers to be dispatched to BitARG, where they will look in depth into the systems and administration over the next 12 months till the official platform is launched.

A statement published by the FSA on Friday suggested Binance was being held under the microscope and was about to receive an official warning, given its lack of registration with the FSA.

Zhao Changpeng, Binance CEO stated: “No need to worry. Some negative news often turns out to be positive in the long term. Chinese have a proverb for this. New (often better) opportunities always emerge during times of change.”

This latest developmentcould give the community a clearer outlook on the future of cryptocurrency, but could as easily be the pullback before the market moves forward. The speculation is that imposing regulations could present opportunities for big conglomerates to buy in at low prices before a parabolic rise within the ecosystem.

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