Coinbase is coming to Japan
Coinbase is opening a Japan office and diving into stiff competition.
"Under the leadership of the highly-respected and admired fintech leader, Nao Kitazawa, our new office will lay the foundation for Japan's crypto investors to access a range of Coinbase’s products. As in other markets, we plan to take a deliberate approach to our rollout in Japan, which means working hand-in-hand with the Japanese FSA to ensure compliance with local laws at every stage," it said.
Japan's FSA (Financial Services Authority) has previously cracked down on overseas exchanges and driven them out, and other big players have temporarily been forced to withdraw.
Binance, for example, was previously pushed towards the door. And Kraken very deliberately walked through it by barring Japanese residents from using the platform, rather than deal with the mounting compliance expenses required to operate in Japan's increasingly regulated crypto-exchange environment.
The tightening of regulations came in the wake of the Coincheck heist, which lost over $500 million worth of NEM and is still the largest single cryptocurrency theft, in prices at the time, to date.
"Nao’s passion for cryptocurrency combined with his extensive background provides Coinbase with a great foundation to successfully push into the largest cryptocurrency market in the world. As a regulated, compliant crypto company in the U.S., we will focus on building that same level trust with new customers in Japan," Coinbase said.
"Upon our business registration with the FSA, Coinbase services available to Japanese customers will be provided with Japanese language translations for ease of use. We look forward to sharing more about our plans for Japan soon."
Japan is one of the world's largest and most crypto-enthusiastic countries, with the Japanese yen previously accounting for about half of all fiat-to-bitcoin exchanges.
Its local financial institutions are also making significant moves towards cryptocurrency, so Coinbase might find itself in a competitive space. Japan's largest bank MUFG, for example, is planning to launch its own yen-pegged stablecoin sometime in 2019.
Even non-strictly-financial services are getting into the game. The popular Line messaging app, for example, also plans to grow its small circle of financial products by opening its own cryptocurrency exchange.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, BTC and NANO.