by Cindy Huynh
Japan’s economy has struggled to reach its 1980s high growth levels. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology may, however, usher in a new economic boom for Japan.
Japan’s Cryptocurrency Push
According to Forbes, Yoshitaka Kitao, the chief executive of financial services giant SBI, mentioned at a Japanese Blockchain Conference in Tokyo that blockchain-related technologies would contribute significantly to Japan’s next economic boom.
Unfortunately, the Japanese economy has been experiencing economic malaise. In the 1970s, Japan’s GDP was the second largest in the world just behind the US. While the boom continued in the 1980s, Japan’s economy plateaued soon after. In the early 1990s, Japan suffered a “lost decade” of growth.
Japan could, however, revive their economy with a technological boom, especially since improved mobile connectivity through 5G Technology, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence are thriving industries in recent years.
SBI Investing $460 million in Blockchain
SBI has recently established an AI and Blockchain Fund in early 2018. The Fund is investing $460 million from the Fund into companies in Japan and East Asia.
“We want to take blockchain beyond financial,” said Kitao. “There’s significant speculative demand around cryptocurrencies, why the price is going up so quickly, but people need to think about how these technologies are being used in real life and how they can improve people’s businesses.”
Kitao believes Japan’s economic boom will happen in the next few years. He senses blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies will have a significant contributing factor in the country’s growth.
In addition to their investments, SBI also plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in 2018. They have even begun mining Bitcoin Cash through a renewable energy wind farm they invested in. Kitao decided to mine Bitcoin Cash instead of Bitcoin because “Bitcoin is too expensive and people are just holding it and hoping it increases in value.”
Japan to Drive Cryptocurrency Adoption
Aaron McDonald, the chief executive officer of Centrality, a decentralized app marketplace, is also confident that Japan and East Asia will lead the cryptocurrency and blockchain movement.
McDonald’s understanding comes from his successful ICO. Centrality closed $80 million via an ICO in early January. While the company is from New Zealand, almost all their tokens were purchased by Japanese investors.
“We’re focused on the region because people in Japan are far further ahead than the rest of the world when it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”
“If blockchain is integrated into the Japanese market it will be a great tool and prevent the market from declining,” said Tezuka Mitsuru, one of the Centrality’s major investors and the chief executive officer at CTIA, a blockchain investment advisory company.
While there are concerns that Japanese regulation could stunt the growth of the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, Japan has adopted a relatively broad approach to cryptocurrency regulations. Although the Japanese government did recently crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges, the concern was more due to numbers of high-profile heists and thefts.