Japanese bitcoin exchange Bitflyer, the country’s first since the collapse of Mt Gox, has raised 25 million yen ($236,000) from a US investor to fund expansion to countries such as Singapore.
Bitflyer allows anyone with a Japanese bank account to buy and sell bitcoin. The Tokyo-based exchange opened in April, and plans to begin offerings abroad by the end of the year, its founder and chief executive officer Yuzo Kano told Bloomberg News.
“Singapore is a likely target, although nothing has been decided yet,” Kano, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader, said.
Kano added that Bitflyer is unlikely to focus on the US anytime soon. The exchange will be looking for a country which is favourable towards bitcoin, which also rules out countries like China, Thailand and Iceland, where crypto-currency use is being regulated.
Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has taken a hands-off approach to the virtual currency which it sees aiding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to spur venture funding for innovation.
But the Monetary Authority of Singapore said in March it plans to issue regulations requiring facilitators of virtual currency exchanges to verify the identities of customers and report suspicious transactions to the police. The rules won’t cover the “safety and soundness” of the intermediaries or the transactions, Bloomberg says.
“Japan is way ahead of other countries when it comes to cooperation between bitcoin operators and regulators, which you don’t see in the U.S., Europe or Singapore,” Kano said.
The investment in Bitflyer came from New York based Bitcoin Opportunity, which is a personal investment vehicle of Barry Silbert, who also heads New York-based brokerage SecondMarket Inc.
According to Bloomberg, Silbert believes that while Japan is a little behind the US in bitcoin awareness, the tech savvy, financially sophisticated population will become a huge market for crypto-currency use.
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