apanese financial services group SBI is set to launch a platform that enables the trading and exchange of virtual currencies, citing increasing interest in virtual currencies like bitcoin which is proving popular among everyday investors.
An announcement reveals the new company to be aptly titled SBI Virtual Currencies Co., Ltd., and will be established tomorrow, November 1, 2016, in Tokyo, Japan. At the time of its publishing, the company had raised 300 million yen (approx. $2.85 million USD) in capital.
An excerpt from SBI’s press release revealed the factors behind the traditional financial institution’s endeavor to open a virtual currency exchange. Loosely translated, it read:
In recent years, virtual currencies, like bitcoin, have attracted plenty of interest and have been covered in major media. It [virtual currencies] are also being traded actively.
Details about the exchange are currently scarce and more updates are expected to come next month. SBI Holdings has already shown notable interest in the virtual currency space, having led a record round of funding for investments in bitFlyer, a leading Japanese bitcoin exchange. Through its investment arm, SBI helped raise a total of $27 million in new capital for the bitcoin exchange, earlier this year.
Furthermore, SBI has also collaborated with Fintech firm Ripple to create a subsidiary called SBI Ripple Asia, as a means to providing blockchain-enabled remittance solutions for users in the region.
Japanese interest and investment in the Fintech industry, particularly with bitcoin- and blockchain-centric companies, has made notable strides following relaxed regulations by authorities in the country. Earlier this year, Japanese regulators were said to be discussing proposals that would treat bitcoin and other virtual currencies as the equivalent of any fiat or traditional currency. That notion came true when the Japanese cabinet passed a bill to officially recognize digital currencies as real money in March 2016.
Since then, calls were made for the regulation of the bitcoin industry in Japan, which also came to pass in May 2016. Pointing to such regulatory measures which marks the acknowledgment of virtual currencies by authorities, SBI sees the current climate as one wherein it “is becoming a clear policy of the government authorities on the handling of virtual currencies.”
[With] such environmental changes as a background, we meet the diverse needs of investors by providing an investment opportunity of a new value asset. [As a result], we have decided to enter the business of virtual currency exchanges.
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