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World’s First Bank-Owned Cryptocurrency Exchange Launches Publicly in Japan

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:04 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:04 PM

Nearly two years after its initial announcement and months of delays this year, the world’s first bank-owned cryptocurrency exchange finally sees its public launch in Japan.

With an announcement on Tuesday, Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings has formally launched its cryptocurrency exchange platform, dubbed ‘VCTRADE’.

As reported by CCN.com in early June, SBI first announced a limited launch of the exchange for some 20,000 pre-registered users – enrolled during an early alpha last year – while holding off on a wider public launch in Japan, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading markets where exchanges are required to be licensed under regulatory laws.

SBI Holdings, through its wholly-owned subsidiary SBI Virtual Currencies – the operator of VCTRADE – has now begun accepting applications from Japanese users for new accounts. The public launch sees the bank-backed cryptocurrency exchange open its doors for all Japanese residents between 20-70 years. At this time, the exchange is only accepting retail investors with no applications from corporate or institutional investors currently under consideration.

During its preliminary launch last month, VCTRADE initially offered trading of XRP, Ripple’s native token that powers the Ripple Consensus Ledger (RCL). SBI Holdings is intrinsically partnered with Ripple with its crypto foray, jointly-operating SBI Ripple Asia with the San Francisco-based FinTech giant to explore the application of Ripple’s blockchain tech and XRP in remittance flows among Asian markets.

Within weeks, VCTRADE also added support for Bitcoin Cash (BCH/JPY) and Bitcoin (BTC/JYP), a total of three cryptocurrencies support so far since its preliminary launch in early June.

The new bank-backed exchange is supporting Ripple, Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash trading at launch.

As reported previously, SBI postponed the launch of its exchange in early 2018 despite completing its registration and acquiring a license from the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s financial regulator, in September 2017.

The financial giant determined it had to strengthen its security measures further – in the aftermath of an infamous $530 million hack of Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck in January – as justifiable cause for the self-enforced delay earlier this year.

The SBI Group first announced its intent to launch its in-house cryptocurrency exchange in October 2016, making it the first mainstream traditional financial institution to enter the crypto space.

“In recent years, virtual currencies, like bitcoin, have attracted plenty of interest and have been covered in major media,” the company said at the time. “It [cryptocurrencies] are also being traded actively.”

 Shibuya Crossing/Tokyo image from Shutterstock.