Jul 24, 2020 15:53 UTC
Jul 27, 2020 at 13:23 UTC
Japan sees surge in crypto holdings
Alongside established Western countries like the US, Switzerland, the UK and many others, Japan is among the Asian countries widely considered to be leaders in technology and innovation. In fact, Japanese firms across various industries are known worldwide for embracing and developing new technologies. And these past few years, among the technologies to steadily gain traction in Japan is cryptocurrency.
Earlier this year, the head of the research committee of the finance and banking systems at the Liberal Democratic Party and ruling party lawmaker Kozo Yamamoto, shared Japan’s plan to develop it’s very own digital currency — the digital yen. To ensure that the development of the digital yen goes off without a hitch, Yamamoto mentioned that the government would be working closely with Japanese central banks, which are also in collaboration with other international banks that are steps ahead in understanding digital currencies.
The concept of digitizing payment — and, by extension, money — is nothing entirely new to Japan, and it shows in many of the country’s public institutions. Not only do many businesses and services accept digital payments, but even the country’s public transportation system also operates on a cashless basis. As noted in ExpatBet’s writeup on Japan, the country is widely known for its highly developed transportation system. With nearly 15,000 miles of railways and 144 private railway companies, it’s a wonder that most of the country’s railway infrastructure operates on a shared digital payment system such as the Suica and Pasmo.
Nonetheless, many still believe that this shift towards digital currencies is greatly influenced by the recent increase in digital payment use by consumers. According to an article by Asia Times, one of the great testaments to the public’s growing fondness for cryptocurrencies is the 11% increase in the number of bitcoins held on Japanese exchanges last March. While XRP was up by 6.4% amounting to 3.2 billion XRP, Ethereum was up by more than 5.7%, thus representing a 1.14 million increase in ETH.
Aside from consumers, various enterprises are also continuously warming up to the idea of using cryptocurrency as a viable way of carrying out monetary transactions. While the real estate outfits Tosei Corporation and Tokai Tokyo Financial Holdings are planning to introduce blockchain-backed services, life insurance company Daido is planning to work with DeCurret to test crypto payments for premiums. Japan’s biggest lender, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is also joining in with its plan to circulate its own cryptocurrency, the ‘MUFG Coin’, during the second half of 2020.
In addition to developing its own digital currency, the government is also opening up to more kinds of cryptocurrency aside from Bitcoin. This July, Coinage received certification from the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) to operate as a crypto exchange in the country. The certification enables the exchange to hold a first-class membership with the Japan Cryptocurrency Trading Association (JVCEA), a step up from its previous second-class status.
The combined efforts of the government and private industries to accommodate and integrate cryptocurrency, in addition to the growing preference of the public for digital ways to pay, make up the perfect environment for cryptocurrency to flourish. Surely, in a few years’ time, the world will be able to see a renewed Japan, backed and empowered by an up and coming digital asset.