Bitmain-Backed Japanese Crypto Exchange Liquid Readies US Launch

April 30, 2019 14:20 UTC

By CCN: Liquid, a Bitmain-backed Japanese cryptocurrency platform operated by Singaporean crypto exchange Quoine, plans to expand into the United States. Liquid hopes to on-board U.S. clients by January 2020.

In an April 29 statement, Liquid said it partnered with a consortium of crypto and fintech investors called Virtual Currency Partners (VCP). The two entities then launched a joint venture called Liquid Financial USA, which will manage the U.S. expansion.

Liquid Co-Founder and CEO Mike Kayamori says he’s making the move into the United States in response to “widespread expressions of interest” from Liquid’s corporate and institutional customers.

Liquid USA, which has offices in New York and Atlanta, is currently working on getting U.S. regulatory approvals.

Liquid claims it’s a tech unicorn

This American build-out comes three weeks after Liquid closed on financing that it claims raised its valuation to more than $1 billion.

In an April 3 statement, Liquid said the latest round of funding was led by investment firm IDG Capital, with participation from Bitmain, the world’s largest maker of cryptocurrency mining rigs.

“Founded in 2014, Liquid has achieved unicorn status in less than five years. This investment in Liquid marks an addition to IDG’s current portfolio of crypto investments, which include Coinbase, Ripple, Bitmain and Kakao’s crypto unit.”

It’s ironic that Bitmain is supposedly investing in Liquid since it announced in December 2018 that it’s laying off up to 50% of its staff. At the time, Bitmain had almost 2,000 employees in its mining and blockchain development segments.

Crypto industry is struggling after brutal winter

All these changes are occurring against the backdrop of continued volatility in the cryptocurrency industry. As CCN reported, Coinnest — South Korea’s fifth-largest crypto exchange — shut down last week.

A few days before that, ConsenSys — the flailing Ethereum development studio — announced that it’s trying to raise $200 million from outside investors to stay afloat.

The fundraising drive came just four months after the Brooklyn-based blockchain startup laid off 13% of its workforce.

Bitcoin can’t escape negative perception

Bitcoin shills are putting on a happy face and insisting that the brutal crypto bear market is finally over, but the stagnation and panic within the industry are palpable.

Not only has there been little progress with regulatory clarity that could legitimize the nascent ecosystem, but the industry continues to be plagued by the public perception that cryptocurrencies — especially bitcoin — are only useful for criminal activity.

Bitcoin is overwhelmingly the most popular and widely used of the 2,000 digital currencies among crypto criminals. In fact, bitcoin is used in 95% of crypto crimes.

“Bitcoin is by far the favorite,” says Jonathan Levin, co-founder of Chainalysis, a blockchain forensics firm used by the IRS and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Many recent drug busts involving fentanyl purchases were uncovered through blockchain analysis because buyers paid for the illegal opioid with bitcoin.

Last modified: April 30, 2019 14:37 UTC

@Samantha_Chang

Samantha Chang is a New York City-based financial editor who writes about crypto and business at . She is a law school grad and an alum of the University of Pennsylvania. You can reach her on Twitter at Samantha Chang or email her at schang121@juno.com.