Japanese giant SBI Group is reported on April 26, 2018, to be scheduling the summer launch this year of its own cryptocurrency exchange. The exchange is apparently to be named “SBI Virtual Currencies” and will be a full-suite digital exchange.
Japan Going Where Other Asian Nations Are Forbidden
Business Insider Japan reported that Yoshitaka Kitao, the SBI Holdings president, confirmed the much-vaunted launch of SBI Virtual Currencies. The SBI venture will be the first wholly banked-owned virtual currency exchange in Japan.
As a signal of crypto-enthusiasm in Southeast Asia, Japan shines as a forward-thinking nation that also enjoys a very dynamic financial services sector. Yoshitaka confirmed the persistent local anticipation when he called a press conference on April 26, 2018. According to him, the company was aiming at a summer launch between June and September in Japan.
From the beginning, the SBI exchange plans to cater for Bitcoin, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and several other viable cryptocurrencies. The upbeat Yoshitaka was optimistic that SBI could rapidly position itself as the number one exchange within the emerging Japanese ecosystem. He quite categorically stated SBI’s intentions behind the launch: to “be number one” in the competitive local markets.
SBI Group first announced its desires for a cryptocurrency exchange as far back as October 2016. The following month of November 2016, the company established SBI Virtual Currencies Co., Ltd. In Tokyo. The project was funded to the tune of some $2.85 million in seed capital.
The executive banker was roughly translated as saying that when SBI finally launches, “it will be number one in the blink of an eye, so quickly.” He also spoke to issues of UX and the need for almost automatic scalability, saying “Even if a tremendous number of customers come, we will have a system that can bear [rapid uptake by users]. We [also] have to pursue safety [and security protocols] thoroughly.”
Finally, SBI Has its Ducks in a Row
After SBI Group initially published its plans to launch its cryptocurrency exchange in 2016, the bank fulfilled registration requirements for digital exchange operators in Japan with the Financial Services Agency (FSA), the Japanese cryptocurrency-financial regulator. Then followed a number of delays, however, partly as a result of business issues and partly due to the novel and demanding requirements of a cryptocurrency exchange.
Earlier in 2018, February saw another postponement on the back of SBI’s concerns that security on the exchange was not where it should be in order to ensure a trouble-free launch. The bank decided that it had to strengthen security measures to ensure the safeguarding of clients’ accounts. Only days before that postponement, the Tokyo exchange Coincheck had been denuded of $530 million in NEM tokens, quite possibly alarming SBI and returning them to the drawing board on issues of watertight security.
Japan was also the unfortunate host to the Mt. Gox exchange collapse. SBI then announced its purchase of a 40 percent shareholding in the Taiwanese cryptocurrency hardware manufacturer CoolBitX in March 2018. CoolBitX makes a cold wallet that can “transact” or interface with other smart mobile devices using Bluetooth.
SBI has been an avid participant in the cryptosphere, also previously investing in bitFlyer, currently the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, with the greatest capital reserves. Indeed, SBI had led the initial funding round that raised some $27 million. SBI Holdings has also co-launched another cross-border payment system with the San Francisco-based Ripple, called SBI Ripple Asia. The project is a blockchain offer that eases cross-border transactions not only between ASEAN nations but also globally.