Japanese Exchange Takeover: Zaif Transfers All Crypto Services to Fisco

Japanese Exchange Takeover: Zaif Transfers All Crypto Services to Fisco

Japanese crypto exchange Zaif has concluded a business transfer agreement with another regulated crypto exchange in Japan. Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange will take over all of Zaif’s services and will be responsible for repaying users who lost their coins when Zaif was hacked last month.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Business Transfer Agreement

Tech Bureau, the operator of Zaif, has signed an agreement to transfer Zaif’s business to Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange (FCCE), the company announced Wednesday.

Japanese Exchange Takeover: Zaif Transfers All Crypto Services to FiscoZaif claims that it was hacked on Sept. 14, with approximately 7 billion yen ($62 million) stolen. On Sept. 20, Fisco Co. Ltd., the parent company of Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange, announced a plan to provide 5 billion yen to help Tech Bureau compensate its affected users in exchange for the majority of the company’s shares. Fisco and Tech Bureau have since been working on a business transfer agreement with a tentative transfer date of Nov. 22.

“While the details of specific measures addressing damages to Zaif users are under consideration, a formal business transfer agreement for the Zaif business to FCCE was concluded,” Fisco wrote, adding:

It has been decided that all of Zaif’s services will be passed to FCCE including handled cryptocurrency, exchanges, vendors, credit transactions and Bitcoin Airfx [derivatives trading]. FCCE will also carry out the return of cryptocurrency that Zaif users lost in the outflow during the hacking incident, etc. (including debt for payment in kind for reasonable amounts of money).

Japan currently has 16 regulated crypto exchanges. Both Zaif and Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange were licensed by the country’s Financial Services Agency in September last year. In August 2017, Fisco announced the launch of “Japan’s first bitcoin-denominated bonds.”

Fisco’s Long-Term Agreement With Tech Bureau

Japanese Exchange Takeover: Zaif Transfers All Crypto Services to FiscoThe two companies have been working together since 2016. When Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange began operations in August 2016, it licensed the use of Tech Bureau’s white label system to provide liquidity to the new exchange.

Two days prior to the hack, on Sept. 12, Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange reviewed its system in order to stop using Tech Bureau’s white label system and start using its new trading system provided by Ccct Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caica Inc.

Plan to Compensate Zaif’s Users

After discovering the security breach on Sept. 17, Zaif immediately suspended several services, including deposit, withdrawal, and merchant payment. The exchange claims that 5,966 BTC, 42,327 BCH, and 6,236,810 MONA were stolen.

Japanese Exchange Takeover: Zaif Transfers All Crypto Services to FiscoAccording to Wednesday’s announcement, Zaif has resumed some services for BTC and BCH, including “transactions, buying and selling through simple transactions and savings.” Tech Bureau clarified that deposit and withdrawal services “are scheduled to resume after operations have been assumed by Fisco Cryptocurrency, with the specific resumption date to be announced at a later date.”

For MONA, “compensation will be made in Japanese yen to the equivalent value” of the amount held by each user at the rate of 144.548 yen per coin, Tech Bureau detailed. At the time of this writing, MONA is trading at 148.4 yen on Zaif.

What do you think of Zaif transferring all crypto services to Fisco Cryptocurrency Exchange? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Zaif, and Fisco Co. Ltd.


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Crypto Exchange Zaif Reveals Customer Compensation Plan after $60 Million Hack

Japan Bitcoin Exchange ZaifAfter waiting for over three weeks for a compensation strategy, victims of the Zaif cryptocurrency exchange hacking can now sigh with relief as the owner of the Japanese exchange has put forward a plan. Tech Bureau, which owns the Zaif cryptocurrency exchange, has announced that it will sell its entire stake to Fisco Digital Asset … Continued

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Zaif Delays Customer Compensation Plan after $60 Million Crypto Theft

Tech Bureau, operator of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif, is yet to reveal a compensation strategy for customers who suffered losses from an infamous $60 million theft three weeks ago. Osaka-based Tech Bureau has already halted new user registrations to focus on reimbursing customers who collectively lost ¥4.5 billion ($40 million) from the ¥6.7 billion ($60

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Japanese Exchange Zaif Hit With Third Improvement Order, Revises Hack Estimate

Zaif Hit With Third Improvement Order, Revises Hack Estimate

Japan’s top financial regulator has issued hacked crypto exchange Zaif a third business improvement order. The exchange has revised its theft estimate, after discovering that 42,327 BCH were also stolen in addition to 5,966 BTC. Zaif has also signed agreements with two companies for their help with repaying customers and improving its security system.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Third Business Improvement Order

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) issued a third business improvement order to Tech Bureau Inc. on Tuesday, Sept. 25. Tech Bureau is the operator of crypto exchange Zaif which was hacked on Sept. 14 but the breach was not detected until Sept. 17. Zaif is one of Japan’s 16 regulated crypto exchanges.

Zaif Hit With Third Improvement Order, Revises Hack EstimateIn its order, the FSA has given the firm until Sept. 27 to submit written reports to explain the situation. Three key areas must be addressed. The first concerns the “Determination of the facts and causes of the leakage…and [the] formulation and execution of measures to prevent recurrence.” The second concerns the “Prevention of customer damage increasing.” The third is about the firm’s “Response to customer damage,” including how it plans to compensate customers.

The order also requires the firm to “review and implement concrete and effective improvement plans” relating to security breaches as outlined in the previous two business improvement orders. The first order was issued on March 8 and the second on June 22.

Zaif Hit With Third Improvement Order, Revises Hack EstimateZaif’s security problem was outlined in the March business improvement order. The agency’s on-site inspection of the exchange at the time revealed system failures and many instances of unauthorized withdrawals. The regulator noted that the exchange’s management team had not “taken appropriate measures to prevent reoccurrence” and had not provided its customers with appropriate disclosure.

Zaif Revises Theft Estimate

Zaif Hit With Third Improvement Order, Revises Hack EstimateWhen Zaif first discovered the breach last week, only 5,966 BTC were confirmed stolen.

The exchange has since revealed that 42,327 BCH and 6,236,810 MONA were also stolen. The stolen crypto belonging to customers total 2,723.4 BTC; 40,360 BCH; and 5,911,859 MONA.

The exchange has also revised its overall theft estimate to approximately 7 billion yen (~$62 million), 4.5 billion yen (~40 million) of which belong to customers.

Zaif’s Plan to Repay Customers

Zaif Hit With Third Improvement Order, Revises Hack EstimateTech Bureau explained that, after the breach was detected, it signed a capital alliance agreement with Fisco Digital Asset Group Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Jasdaq-listed Fisco Corporation, for help with repaying customers in exchange for the majority of its shares.

Fisco independently announced last week that its basic agreement with Tech Bureau includes “financial support amount of 5 billion yen [~$44.3 million],” which it believes to be sufficient to cover customer damages. “If [the total] damage amount fluctuates after future investigation, we will review again,” the firm emphasized.

In addition, Tech Bureau has entered into an agreement with another Jasdaq-listed company, Caica Corporation, to obtain technical support to improve its security system.

What do you think of Zaif’s situation? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, FSA, Zaif, and Fisco.


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‘Business Improvement Order’: Japan Slaps Crypto Exchange Operator after $60 Million Theft

Japanese financial authorities are ramping up their scrutiny into the domestic crypto exchange sector after last week’s ¥6.7 billion ($60 million) hack of Tech Bureau’s exchange Zaif. In an announcement today, Japan’s Ministry of Finance struck Osaka-based Tech Bureau, operator of the licensed cryptocurrency exchange Zaif, with “administrative penalties” wherein the latter sees a number … Continued

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Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif’s Hack

Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif's Hack

Following the hack of Zaif, one of Japan’s regulated crypto exchanges, the country’s financial regulator immediately responded, launching an emergency inspection of the exchange and a survey of all other crypto exchanges. Finance Minister Taro Aso has also commented on the situation. In addition, the recently established self-regulatory body has asked all exchanges to inspect their systems.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

FSA Launches Emergency Inspection

Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif's HackJapan’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), has responded to the hack of Zaif, one of its regulated crypto exchanges. Japan only has 16 exchanges registered with the FSA.

Zaif announced on Thursday, Sept. 20 (Japan time), that it was hacked on Sept. 14 but noticed the breach on Sept. 17. The exchange claims that at least 5,966 BTC were stolen and estimates the total damage to be approximately 6.7 billion yen (~US$60 million). Other than BTC, it believes that some BCH and MONA were also stolen.

Following Zaif’s announcement, the FSA immediately launched an emergency inspection of the exchange, according to local media. The Mainichi Shimbun reported:

The FSA inspected the company’s base in Osaka on the same day in order to confirm the circumstances…We will examine in detail the [exchange’s] safety management system etc.

Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif's HackThe news outlet added that “On the same day, the Financial Services Agency launched a simultaneous survey on the customers’ property management situations of all virtual currency exchange operators.”

Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif's Hack
Taro Aso.

The Japanese regulator is still dealing with the aftermath of Coincheck’s hack in January when hackers stole 58 billion yen (~$534 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM. Since then, the agency has stepped up its oversight of crypto exchanges, including on-site inspections. Last month, it revealed the result of the inspection of 23 crypto exchanges which shows many problems.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso was quoted by Nikkei speaking at a press conference after the cabinet meeting on Sept. 21 (Japan time):

It is regrettable that virtual currency of about 6.7 billion yen leaked from illegal access from the virtual currency exchange company Tech Bureau…There is a problem with [its] system and governance…We will grasp the actual situation and conduct administrative responses necessary for user protection.

Third Business Improvement Order

Following Zaif’s hack announcement, Reuters reported that the FSA is considering issuing a third business improvement order to Tech Bureau, the operator of Zaif. The firm has already received two business improvement orders: one in March and another in June. However, the news outlet noted:

Even with repeated administrative sanctions, strengthening of the [exchange’s] internal control system did not proceed.

The Sankei Shimbun quoted an investigator saying, “I am overly concerned about [Zaif’s] security,” noting that the situation could “repeat the same thing as [the] Coincheck incident.”

Response From Self-Regulatory Body

Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif's Hack
Taizen Okuyama.

The Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (Jvcea) has also issued a statement regarding the hack of Zaif. The association is a self-regulatory body whose members are the 16 registered crypto exchanges including Tech Bureau.

“Although the situation is unknown at this time, our association will also request the company to take measures necessary for user protection, such as protection of user property and prompt disclosure of information,” the president of the association, Taizen Okuyama, announced on Sept. 20. He added:

Also, in order to avoid the same situation, the association [has] requested all members to conduct emergency inspections of [their] virtual currency management systems.

Exchanges Self-Inspecting

A number of crypto exchanges in Japan have made announcements about their own systems after the news of Zaif’s hack spread.

Japanese Regulators Urgently Respond to Zaif's Hack“In light of the recent theft of assets from Tech Bureau Corp., we have conducted an immediate inspection of our asset management systems. We detected no signs of unauthorized activity,” Bitflyer claims. Japan’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume has stopped accepting new customers since it received a business improvement order from the FSA in June.

GMO Coin, the crypto subsidiary of Japan’s internet giant GMO, has made an announcement in response to customer inquiries about the possibility of theft from its platform. The exchange wrote:

We check customer balances and the balance of the virtual currency kept by our company every business day, and also check [for] the existence of theft and spill in the process of sorting and storing customers’ virtual currency and our own virtual currency separately…we have confirmed that there is no problem even today and in the past confirmed results.

Another crypto exchange, Bitpoint, has notified its customers that it has “carried out urgent re-inspections and confirmed that no illegal outflow of virtual currency is taking place and that there are no problems with security measures.”

What do you think of how the Japanese regulators respond to Zaif’s hack? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pixabay, Zaif, and Money Partners.


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Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC Stolen

Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC Stolen

Japanese government-approved cryptocurrency exchange Zaif has confirmed that it has been hacked. After a preliminary investigation, the exchange says at least 5,966 BTC have been stolen, with an estimated total damage of $60 million. Some of the stolen coins belong to the exchange but the majority belong to customers.

Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals

Zaif Hacked

Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC StolenJapanese crypto exchange Zaif has been hacked, its operator announced on Wednesday, Sept. 19. Tech Bureau Inc., which operates Zaif, explained that the exchange “detected server abnormality” on Monday and immediately suspended several services, including deposit, withdrawal, and merchant payment services.

The company revealed that unauthorized access to its hot wallet was detected between 17:00 and 19:00 on Sept. 14, elaborating:

Some of the deposit and withdrawal hot wallets were hacked by unauthorized access from the outside, and part of the virtual currencies managed by us was illegally discharged to the outside.

Japanese Regulated Exchange Zaif Hacked – Nearly 6000 BTC StolenThe exchange believes that three cryptocurrencies may have been stolen: BTC, BCH, and MONA. While it has confirmed that 5,966 BTC were stolen, the theft of the other two cryptocurrencies is still being investigated. Tech Bureau explained that the extent of the damage is currently unknown because the exchange’s server will not be restarted until it is confirmed to be secured in order to prevent further damage. Nonetheless, the company clarified:

It is estimated that the total loss due to the damage…is equivalent to about 6.7 billion yen [~US$60 million] (including MONA and BCH) in Japanese yen.

Out of the total damage, the company says 2.2 billion yen (~$19.6 million) belong to the exchange and 4.5 billion yen (~$40 million) belong to customers. Tech Bureau said it has asked for 5 billion yen (~$44.6 million) in assistance from a subsidiary of Fisco Ltd. to help repay affected customers, Kyodo News described.

Investigating and Rebuilding

In its announcement, Tech Bureau stated that it reported the breach to the Treasury Department on Sept. 18. “This case is a criminal case,” the company wrote, adding that it has requested an investigation into the breach. The company detailed:

Currently, we are checking and strengthening security, rebuilding the server, etc., in order to restart the system of depositing / withdrawing virtual currency.

The Osaka-based exchange, established in 2014, is one of the 16 government-approved crypto exchanges in Japan. The country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) issued the company two business improvement orders: the first was on March 8 and the second on June 22. The agency ramped up its oversight of crypto exchanges after hackers stole 58 billion yen (~$534 million) worth of the cryptocurrency NEM from Coincheck in January.

What do you think of Zaif’s hack? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Zaif.


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Japanese Crypto Exchanges Working on Lowering Margin Trading Limits

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Working on Lowering Margin Trading Limits

Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges may soon set a strict limit on the leverage they offer for margin trading in order to better protect investors. The association comprised of 16 government-approved crypto exchanges is reportedly imposing a leverage limit as part of its self-regulatory rules. There will be a grace period and exceptions.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Leverage Limit on Margin Trading

The Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) is reportedly planning to impose a leverage limit for crypto margin trading in order to protect investors, local media reported Wednesday.

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Working on Lowering Margin Trading LimitsThe association’s members are all of Japan’s 16 government-approved crypto exchanges. It was set up in response to the hack of Coincheck in January in order to rebuild public trust in the crypto space.

The JVCEA has been working on self-regulatory measures. Nikkei reported Wednesday that the proposed rules include “an across-the-board cap on the extent to which traders can use borrowed funds to magnify gains and losses,” adding:

The self-regulatory body for Japan’s cryptocurrency exchanges is firming up plans to set a 4-to-1 leverage limit on margin trading, aiming to reduce the risk of massive losses given the volatility of these assets.

“The measure would take effect after a one-year grace period. The organization is considering allowing exceptions if exchanges meet certain conditions, such as implementing automatic stop-loss mechanisms,” the publication detailed. With the volatility of crypto trading, “some highly leveraged cryptocurrency investors in Japan have suffered heavy losses, spurring criticism from consumer protection groups.”

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Working on Lowering Margin Trading LimitsWhile the association itself has not confirmed its plans, the news outlet wrote that the “draft rules also include bans on insider trading and dealing in cryptocurrencies suspected to be used in money laundering.”

Last month, six of the association’s members received business improvement orders from Japan’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Subsequently, Yuzo Kano and Hiroyuki Noriyuki, representative directors of Bitflyer and Bitbank Corporation, who were serving as vice presidents of the association, resigned to focus on their exchange businesses.

Exchanges Set Their Own Limits

Each cryptocurrency exchange in Japan sets its own limit for margin trading. DMM Bitcoin, the crypto exchange of Japanese e-commerce and entertainment giant DMM Group, for example, offers 5 times leverage.

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Working on Lowering Margin Trading LimitsZaif, operated by Tech Bureau, offers up to 7.77 times leverage. “You can choose leverage from 1x to 7.77x, according to your trading style,” the exchange wrote on its website.

GMO Coin, the exchange subsidiary of Japanese internet giant GMO, offers 5 times and 10 times leverage for BTC/JPY. However, only 5 times leverage is offered for the margin trading of ETH, BCH, LTC, and XRP against the JPY.

Bitpoint offers leverage of 2x, 5x, 10x, and 25x for BTC/JPY, BTC/USD, BTC/EUR, and BTC/HKD. Bitflyer’s Lightning platform allows leverage of up to 15 times.

Nikkei further elaborated:

Japan currently lacks limits on cryptocurrency margin trading…Some exchanges permit leverage of up to 25 times the deposit, citing regulations, setting that as the ceiling for foreign exchange trading.

Do you think Japanese exchanges should have a lower leverage limit? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the FSA.


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Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement Plans

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement Plans

Six government-approved cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan have submitted their business improvement plans to the country’s top financial regulator. While improving their internal systems, most have also engaged in different areas of business expansion.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Six Business Improvement Plans Submitted

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement PlansSix of Japan’s 16 government-approved cryptocurrency exchanges have submitted their business improvement plans to the country’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA). On June 22, the FSA issued business improvement orders to Bitflyer, Bitpoint Japan, Bitbank, Btc Box, Quoine and Tech Bureau.

Complying with the orders, each of the six companies confirmed that they have submitted a written business improvement plan to the agency on Monday, July 23.

Bitflyer was ordered to improve in ten areas, Btc Box nine, Bitbank eight, and Quoine seven. Both Bitpoint and Tech Bureau were ordered to improve in six areas. The June 22 order was the second for Tech Bureau, the operator of the Zaif exchange.

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement PlansThe only company to receive an order for a “drastic review of [its] management system” was Bitflyer. The exchange, along with Quoine and Btc Box, also received an order to construct “a management system related to the exclusion of antisocial forces.”

Other improvement items the FSA ordered include “Building a legal compliance system,” “Establish a risk management system for money laundering and terrorist financing,” “Construction of a separation control system for user property,” “Establishment of a control system related to user protection measures,” and “Construction of the risk management system in accordance with the new handling or the like of the virtual currency.”

New Trading and Payment Tools

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement PlansSince receiving a business improvement order, Bitpoint has launched a couple of new services. A trading tool called Bitpoint Advance was launched on June 29. It is “designed to quickly deal with price information such as charts and board information…on one screen, without changing the screen,” the exchange described. The tool supports “both in-kind trading and leveraged transactions.”

Earlier this month, Bitpoint upgraded its crypto payment system for merchants called Bitpointpay, which now supports BCH, BTC, and ETH. The company detailed:

We have upgraded the version to correspond to bitcoin cash (BCH) with the aim of expanding the means of settlement for users … As a result of this upgrade, customers (payers) can choose to pay franchisees from the three types of virtual currencies.

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement Plans

Personnel Recruitment

After apologizing to its customers again on Monday, Bitbank wrote that they have “fundamentally reviewed the internal control system and management system.” The measures, according to the company, were made “in order to ensure proper and reliable operation of the business towards customers’ recovery of trust.”

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement PlansTo avoid future problems, Bitbank also indicated that they will “continue to review the management strategy and others.”

Last week, the company launched a career site to “strengthen its recruitment.” The site currently lists a number of vacancies to be filled such as various positions in engineering, design, marketing, PR, HR, internal audit and compliance. The company says:

We are currently growing rapidly, but we are looking for someone who can work together to grow more.

App Replacement

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement PlansZaif announced last week that its existing iOS and Android smartphone applications will be terminated on October 15. “Support will [also] be terminated on Tuesday, October 16, 2018,” the exchange wrote.

The company emphasized that deposits, withdrawals, and trading on the Zaif exchange will be unaffected, clarifying that “Currently we are developing dedicated new applications. We will make every effort to provide you with better service with a new official application.”

New Account Signups Still Suspended

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Submit Business Improvement PlansMeanwhile, Japan’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, Bitflyer, issued a notice Monday stating that it “strictly observes the relevant laws and regulations and further strengthens the management system throughout the company.”

“We will make every effort to prevent recurrence and restore customer’s trust,” the company emphasized.

The exchange stopped accepting new customers immediately after receiving the improvement order on June 22. At the time of this writing, its website still shows:

We are currently pausing the account creation by new customers voluntarily in order to do our utmost to build a proper service management system and to improve our suggestions.

What do you think of how the Japanese crypto industry is evolving? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Nikkei, Bitflyer, Bitbank, Bitpoint, Btc Box, and Zaif.


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Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator’s Improvement Orders

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement Orders

Six fully-licensed Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges have responded to the business improvement orders issued by the country’s top financial regulator. Two executives have also resigned from their positions as vice presidents of the recently formed crypto exchange association.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Japan’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), issued business improvement orders to six regulated crypto exchanges on June 22. Japan currently has 16 regulated crypto exchanges in total. Bitflyer, Bitpoint Japan, Btcbox, Bitbank, Quoine, and Tech Bureau received instructions to improve their crypto exchange businesses. Out of the six, only Tech Bureau has received two such orders.

Crypto Exchange Association

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersThe Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), founded in March, consists solely of the 16 government-approved crypto exchanges. It was formed in response to the hack of Coincheck in order to restore public trust in the industry.

The chairman of the association is Taizen Okuyama of Money Partners. There are four directors: Bitflyer’s Yuzo Kano, Bitbank’s Hiroyuki Noriyuki, SBI Virtual Currencies’ Yoshitaka Kitao, and GMO Coin’s Tomitaka Ishimura. While GMO Coin did not receive a business improvement order on the 22nd, it received one in March.

On Monday, June 25, the association announced that two of its vice chairmen have resigned, stating:

In response to the fact that vice chairmen of the association, Yuzo Kano and Hiroyuki Noriyuki, representative directors of Bitflyer Co. Ltd. and Bitbank Corporation, received business improvement orders concerning their virtual currency exchange businesses, we inform you that we have received resignation requests from both of the vice presidents on this date and have accepted them.

The association continued to detail, “we will continue to do our utmost to protect the interests of users and to promote the sound development of the virtual currency exchange industry, including the early establishment of voluntary regulation rules.” Prior to the two resignations, local media reported that the association was going to release self-regulatory rules this week; the association has not confirmed any specific details.

Crypto Exchanges’ Responses

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersJapan’s largest crypto exchange by volume, Bitflyer, announced on the same day as the FSA order its plans to improve a number of business areas. The exchange has also halted new user registrations and will strengthen its account verification process for existing users, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersBitbank explained that it is reviewing “the internal control system and management system” in order to “ensure proper and reliable operation of the business towards customers’ recovery of trust.” The exchange emphasized that there is no impact to customer assets. A sophisticated management system will be established as the company works closely with the authorities, the exchange elaborated:

There will be no impact on various services and customer assets provided by our company due to the business improvement order this time. You can use the service as usual for all transactions / functions including deposits and withdrawals of Japanese yen.

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersBitpoint Japan wrote, “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to you and other concerned customers,” adding that it will “promptly enhance and strengthen the management control system.”

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersBtcbox similarly declared, “We take the situation sincerely, we deeply reflect on it,” noting that it will build a management system as directed by the FSA’s order.

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersQuoine’s CEO, Mike Kayamori, detailed how his exchange will comply with the FSA order. He explained that the order is about “governance, compliance, back-office, KYC and AML,” not security or theft, elaborating: “we will need to pull out some necessary resources, especially from the back end developers who will need to provide the necessary data to comply and work with the FSA.” He further clarified that it means pulling “key people” away who are currently working on his exchange’s Liquid platform to work with the FSA instead, elaborating:

We believe this will be about a month or two process and business will be as usual.

Six Japanese Crypto Exchanges Respond to Regulator's Improvement OrdersZaif, operated by Tech Bureau, also responded, referencing the March business improvement order. In addition to complying with the previous order, two more areas will be improved. The first is the “Establishment of an effective risk management system” and the second is the “Establishment of a system to respond appropriately to customers.” The exchange wrote:

We sincerely accept that we received the improvement order again. To make it possible for customers to use it with confidence, we will endeavor to further improve and strengthen the organization and work together throughout the company so that we can establish an appropriate management system.

What do you think of the responses by the six Japanese crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitflyer, Bitbank, Bitpoint, Tech Bureau, Quoine, and Btcbox.


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Japan Penalizes Crypto Exchanges – Yakuza Involvement Confirmed

Japan Penalizes Crypto Exchanges - Yakuza Involvement Confirmed

The Japanese regulator has issued business improvement orders to six of the country’s 16 fully-licensed crypto exchanges including Bitflyer, Quoine, and Tech Bureau. The agency confirmed to news.Bitcoin.com that at least one of the six exchanges has some form of involvement with the Yakuza. Responding to the improvement order, Bitflyer has halted new account registrations.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Punishing 6 Regulated Exchanges

Japan Penalizes Crypto Exchanges - Yakuza Involvement ConfirmedJapan’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), issued six new business improvement orders on Friday, June 22. The orders to Bitflyer, Tech Bureau, Bitpoint Japan, Btcbox, Bitbank, and Quoine follow the agency’s first rejection of a crypto exchange registration on June 7.

Bitflyer, Japan’s largest crypto exchange by volume, received an “administrative penalty” order. The agency said that after an inspection, “an effective management system has not been established to ensure proper and reliable operation of the business, as well as countermeasures against money laundering and terrorist financing.” The exchange must submit a written report to the agency by July 23. The regulator elaborated:

Management has not established an internal control system including an internal audit, giving priority to reducing costs.

The other five crypto exchanges received similar orders. Japan currently has 16 fully-licensed exchanges. Previously, the only regulated exchanges to receive business improvement orders from the FSA were Tech Bureau which operates Zaif exchange and GMO Coin. Today’s order is the second Tech Bureau has received.

Bitflyer Halts New Account Registrations

Japan Penalizes Six Cryptocurrency Exchanges - Yakuza Involvement ConfirmedResponding to the FSA’s orders, Bitflyer apologized to its customers and outlined plans to comply with the agency. In order to “promptly build a proper identity management system for existing customers, we have decided to re-check the status of approval,” the exchange wrote, adding:

If defects and deficiencies are confirmed within a customer’s registration information by any chance, it will be necessary to re-implement the person’s confirmation process. Therefore, in some cases, we ask visitors to re-present their identity confirmation documents, so we are sorry for any inconvenience.

“In addition, we have reexamined the status of identity confirmation of existing customers, and the internal control system. Until reinforcement is in place, [we will] voluntarily suspend account creation by new customers,” Bitflyer emphasized.

Organized Crime Involvement

In an interview with a news.Bitcoin.com reporter in Tokyo, the FSA confirmed that at least one of the six crypto exchanges above was found to have some kind of involvement with organized crime groups, particularly the Yakuza. Without naming the guilty crypto exchanges, a spokesman for the agency told a crowd of reporters:

The FSA found that some companies do not have an updated database for screening the individuals who sign up…We strongly recommend those companies to remove all ties with anti-social forces [organized crime groups].

As the crypto industry grows in Japan, the FSA pointed out the necessity for exchanges to work with the local authorities to create an increasingly secure environment with proper monitoring systems, including screening users identification.

What do you think of the FSA’s action and Yakuza’s involvement with crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Nikkei, Firstlogic, and Pixabay.

Editor’s Note: Nathalie Stucky contributed to this article. Some statements have been translated from Japanese.


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Japan’s GMO Has Mined Over 900 Bitcoins – Hashrate Doubled Last Month

Japan's GMO Has Mined Over 900 Bitcoins - Hashrate Doubled Last Month

The mining operation of Japan’s internet giant GMO has resulted in over 900 bitcoins and 537 bitcoin cash so far, as the company roughly doubled its hashrate last month. Meanwhile, its crypto exchange reported a first-quarter loss after the country’s financial regulator ordered it to improve.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Over 900 BTC Mined So Far

Japan's GMO Has Mined Over 900 Bitcoins - Hashrate Doubled Last MonthJapanese conglomerate GMO Internet released its cryptocurrency mining business report for April this week.

“We are currently mining bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH),” GMO wrote. The company mined 373 BTC and 0 BCH in April. In March, it mined 295 BTC and 12 BCH and in February 124 BTC and 287 BCH. Overall, GMO has mined 906 BTC and 537 BCH so far since it began operation.

Japan's GMO Has Mined Over 900 Bitcoins - Hashrate Doubled Last Month

The group revealed that its “Hash rate rose due to the increase in the number of computers we are operating as planned.” In April, the hashrate was 241 PH/s, up from 129 PH/s in March, 108 PH/s in February, and 27 PH/s in January. The announcement details:

Hash rate is an important indicator for estimating our mining share. Our goal is to see the hashrate reach 3,000PH/s this year.

The company announced the launch of its mining business in September last year. In October, it outlined plans to launch an initial coin offering (ICO) for the sale of its “next-generation mining boards.” In January, GMO announced that it had succeeded in developing a 12nm ASIC mining chip.

GMO Coin’s Earnings Performance

Japan's GMO Has Mined Over 900 Bitcoins - Hashrate Doubled Last MonthGMO Coin is the cryptocurrency exchange subsidiary of GMO Internet. It is one of the 16 fully licensed crypto exchanges in Japan. The company has launched a service to allow customers to lend their bitcoins to the company as well as set up a bitcoin salary payment system to pay its employees in the digital currency.

However, the Financial Services Agency (FSA) has issued the exchange a business improvement order. The only other government-approved exchange to have received such an order is Tech Bureau which operates Zaif exchange.

GMO Financial Holdings recently released GMO Coin’s earnings report which shows an operating loss of 760 million yen (~US$7 million) in the first quarter of this year. The cost of operating the crypto business rose by about 560 million yen (~$5.1 million) for the group from the previous quarter.

What do you think of GMO’s mining operations and exchange? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and GMO Internet.


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Nine Japanese Crypto Exchanges Have Suspended Operations So Far

Nine Japanese Crypto Exchanges Have Suspended Operations So Far

A total of nine cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan have suspended their operations so far. This includes the latest two, one of which was sanctioned by the Japanese financial regulator on Wednesday while the other voluntarily withdrew its license application.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Blue Dream Japan

Nine Japanese Crypto Exchanges Have Suspended Operations So FarThe Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) issued a business improvement and suspension order to Blue Dream Japan Co. Ltd on Wednesday after an on-site inspection was carried out. The company must halt all activities related to its crypto exchange business from April 11 to June 10.

Following the FSA’s order, Blue Dream Japan issued a statement, “We will solemnly accept the business suspension order and business improvement order,” adding that they “promise to seriously respond, [and] we will do our utmost to resume our service.” Furthermore, the company wrote:

We hope to continue [our] virtual currency exchange business in the future after conducting thorough compliance with laws and regulations and improving the management system so that we can provide services that users can use with confidence.

Campfire’s Firex

Nine Japanese Crypto Exchanges Have Suspended Operations So FarAnother company has also announced the withdrawal of its application with the FSA to operate a crypto exchange. Campfire, a leading crowdfunding site in Japan, operates the cryptocurrency exchange Firex, which was launched in March of last year.

The company has voluntarily suspended its crypto exchange services. “We aimed to fully renew [our] exchange system,” Campfire wrote and elaborated:

We have been preparing to register the virtual currency exchange…However, in order to build a perfect service system in terms of customer asset protection and convenience, we decided that [a] further review of the plan is necessary.

9 Exchanges Suspended Operations So Far

Nine Crypto Exchanges Have Suspended Operations in Japan So FarPrior to the hack of one of the country’s largest crypto exchanges, Coincheck, Japan had 16 licensed crypto exchanges and 16 “quasi-operators” of cryptocurrencies, also called “deemed dealers.” These are companies that have applied for licenses but have not been approved. Both Blue Dream Japan and Campfire fall into this category.

Coincheck was the first company to be sanctioned by the FSA since the Japanese Payment Services Act went into effect in April of last year. Following a business improvement order on January 29, the agency launched an on-site inspection of the exchange and subsequently proceeded to inspect all other exchanges as well. All quasi-operators received on-site inspections.

On March 8, the FSA issued business improvement orders to six companies. Four of them were quasi-operators – Mister Exchange, Bitcrements, Bit Station, and FSHO. The other two were fully licensed – Tech Bureau and GMO Coin.

Nine Crypto Exchanges Have Suspended Operations in Japan So FarThen on April 6, the agency issued administrative punishment orders to three exchanges – Lastroots, Eternal Links, and another to FSHO. The latter two were also ordered to suspend operations – Eternal Links from April 6 to June 5 and FSHO from April 8 to June 7. The latest company to receive a business suspension order is the aforementioned Blue Dream Japan.

In addition, a total of six crypto exchanges are reportedly withdrawing their applications following the inspections by the FSA – Tokyo Gateway, Mr. Exchange, Raimu, Bitexpress, Bit Station, and now Campfire.

What do you think of Japanese exchanges suspending operations? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Blue Dream Japan, Campfire, and Nikkei.


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Japan Revises Registration Rules for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Japan Revises Registration Rules for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

The Japanese financial regulator has revised its rules and procedures for registering cryptocurrency exchanges following the hack of Coincheck and the inspections that revealed many inadequate security measures of multiple exchanges. The regulator says its aim is to rebuild the crypto industry.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Strengthening Exchange Review Process

Japan Revises Registration Rules for Cryptocurrency ExchangesThe Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has reportedly strengthened its rules and procedures for approving the registrations of cryptocurrency exchanges, local media reported.

According to the Sankei Shimbun, the FSA “will strengthen the registration review” process for companies that have applied for registration but have not been approved. These companies, known as “quasi-operators” of cryptocurrencies, have been allowed to operate while their registrations are under review.

For registrars that pass the initial examination process, the agency will “proceed with [their] on-site inspections,” the news outlet detailed, adding that:

As a result of the inspection, it is a policy [of the FSA] to strongly seek ‘withdrawal’ from exchange companies that do not show improvement.

The process will help avoid a repeat of Coincheck’s situation since the hacked exchange applied for a license in September of last year but was allowed to keep operating as a quasi-operator. Coincheck has recently been acquired by Monex Group.

Rebuilding Crypto Industry

The FSA strengthened its rules after inspecting all quasi-operators and uncovered many inadequate security measures across multiple exchanges. Consequently, five companies have already withdrawn their applications and some exchanges were ordered to suspend operations. According to Jiji Press, the agency additionally revealed on Friday that another exchange, Campfire, is also “showing a willingness to withdraw its registration application.”

Japan Revises Registration Rules for Cryptocurrency ExchangesSome exchanges that have obtained licenses from the agency have also been inspected, including Quoine, Tech Bureau, and GMO Coin, the news outlet added. Tech Bureau and GMO Coin have already received business improvement orders from the agency. “We mainly examine the system of protecting users, the auditing function, which we do not know by reporting alone, whether they are exercising corporate governance by properly separating management and execution,” the FSA detailed.

Furthermore, over 100 companies are reportedly planning to enter the cryptocurrency exchange business, the Sankei Shimbun noted. Among them is Line Corporation which operates one of the world’s most popular chat apps, Line.

What do you think of Japan tightening rules on crypto exchange registration? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and the FSA.


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Japanese Crypto Exchanges Tap Star Power for Marketing Arms Race

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Tap Star Power for Marketing Arms Race

Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges have been very active in advertising their services. Several exchanges including Bitflyer, DMM Bitcoin, Tech Bureau’s Zaif and the hacked exchange Coincheck have been tapping into star power and launching TV commercials with original music.

Also read: Indians Look to Buy Bitcoin Overseas as Regulations Tighten

Japanese Exchanges’ TV Commercials

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Tap Star Power for Marketing Arms Race
Actress in Zaif’s commercials.

Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges have been actively advertising their businesses. Last week, Tech Bureau’s Zaif exchange joined Bitflyer, DMM Bitcoin, Bitrade, and Coincheck in tapping into Japan’s star power to promote its services.

According to CM Soken Consulting, a commercial researcher operated by Tokyo Kikaku Co, “the presence of TV commercials by cryptocurrency exchanges has significantly increased in the past year,” Japan Times reported. “Between Dec. 20 to Jan. 19, TV ads by Coincheck and Bitflyer were aired 819 times in the Kanto region, comparable to major firms such as Toyota Motor Corp, NTT Docomo Inc, and Mcdonald’s Japan.”

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Tap Star Power for Marketing Arms Race
Actress in DMM Bitcoin’s commercials.

The news outlet also pointed out that a huge billboard for “DMM Bitcoin featuring a Japanese celebrity coated in gold” is prominently displayed in Shibuya, one of the busiest and most famous shopping districts in Tokyo. “When I was in London I would see ads all over Facebook, but never on TV or in the streets like this,” a 20-year-old British tourist admitted as he stood beneath the billboard.

Kenji Harashima, a senior researcher specializing in financial technologies for the Mizuho Research Institute, was quoted:

Japanese exchanges are the most active in the world. Not only is this the result of tight regulations in China and South Korea, it is also because you can use leverage to make investments.

DMM Bitcoin, Bitflyer and Coincheck “have all advertised on web platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. These same exchanges have also aired TV commercials,” the publication added.

Tech Bureau’s Zaif

Last week, Tech Bureau which operates Zaif crypto exchange started broadcasting a commercial nationwide featuring Japanese actress, model, and singer Ayame Goriki. According to her Wikipedia page, she has been in 37 TV series and has appeared in 7 movies.

The 1-minute commercial also features an original song loosely translated as “Zaif for bitcoin” by a band called “Kaneko Mari & Zaif 2 Da Moon.” Zaif says that the nationwide promotion is aimed at increasing service awareness as well as “improving the image of the industry as a whole.”

Bitflyer

Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, Bitflyer, was the first to run TV commercials at the end of April of last year, according to Japan Times. At the time, the Japanese government had just legalized bitcoin as a legal method of payment.

Bitflyer hired Japanese actress and model Riko Narumi to be the company’s spokesmodel and appear in its commercials.

DMM Bitcoin

Japanese Crypto Exchanges Tap Star Power for Marketing Arms Race
DMM FX commercial featuring Laura.

DMM Group started advertising for its bitcoin exchange at the start of the year. The company launched a crypto exchange under the brand name DMM Bitcoin in January which supports 7 cryptocurrencies. Recently, it also launched a mining farm and a showroom in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.

DMM Bitcoin’s commercials feature an actress and model known as Laura and another actress called Rika Nakagawa. Laura has also been in other DMM Group’s commercials including those for the company’s foreign exchange arm, DMM FX.

Too Much Ad Spending?

Bittrade and Coincheck crypto exchanges have tapped into star power to advertise their businesses. Bittrade hired Japanese actress Ruriko Kojima to be its face. Coincheck hired popular local comedian Tetsuro Degawa. However, Coincheck’s ads were removed following the hack that cost the exchange 58 billion yen worth of NEM.

“Coincheck executives have admitted that they might have put more priority on attracting customers with ads rather than enhancing security,” Japan Times wrote and quoted SBI Holdings’ CEO Yoshitaka Kitao saying:

The thing that makes me the most angry is that they spent money on commercials that should have been spent on their systems.

The Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association (JCBA), an industry group with over 150 members including Coincheck, has requested its members to “advertise responsibly.”

What do you think of Japanese crypto exchanges’ advertising strategies? Which ads do you like most? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Zaif, Bitflyer, and DMM Bitcoin.


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Japanese Financial Authority Inspecting 32 Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Japanese Financial Authority Inspecting 32 Cryptocurrency Exchanges

The Japanese Financial Services Agency has announced that it is inspecting all 32 cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan. This includes 16 exchanges that have not obtained a license but are currently under review by the agency and those that are already fully licensed.

Also read: Japan’s DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

16 Exchanges Fully Licensed

Japanese Financial Authority Inspecting 32 Cryptocurrency ExchangesThe Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) published a list on Friday of 32 cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan. This includes 16 exchanges that are already licensed and 16 other exchanges that have applied for a license and are currently under review.

The FSA first approved 11 exchanges in September of last year: Money Partners, Quoine, Bitflyer, Bit Bank, SBI Virtual Currencies, GMO Coin, Bittrade, Btcbox, Bitpoint, Fisco Virtual Currency, and Zaif.

Then in early December, 4 companies were additionally approved to operate cryptocurrency exchanges: Tokyo Bitcoin Exchange, Bit Arg Exchange Tokyo, FTT Corporation, and Xtheta Corporation. At the end of December, another exchange, Bitocean, was approved. In total, 16 businesses are licensed to operate cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan.

16 More Exchanges Under Review

Japanese Financial Authority Inspecting 32 Cryptocurrency ExchangesBefore Friday, the FSA has never revealed the names of the companies that have applied for a license and are under review. In addition to the aforementioned 16 exchanges, another 16 are currently not licensed but are classified as “deemed virtual currency exchange traders” while under review, the agency explained. Among them is Coincheck, one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges.

The other 15 are Minnano Bitcoin, Payward Japan, Lemuria Bitcoin Exchange (Bitcrements), Campfire Corporation, Tokyo Gateway, Lastroots Corporation, Debit, Eternal Link, FSHO Corporation, Kirin Corporation, Bit Station, Blue Dream Japan, Mr. Exchange, Bmex Corporation, and Bitexpress Corporation.

Inspections of All Exchanges

The agency published this list of all exchanges in response to the hack of Coincheck, where 58 billion yen (~USD$530 million) worth of NEM were stolen last week. While the exchange has promised to repay its 260,000 affected customers out of its own capital, no timeframe has been set.

Japanese Financial Authority Inspecting 32 Cryptocurrency ExchangesFollowing the hack, the FSA issued a business improvement order to Coincheck and ordered it to submit a report by February 13 on the hack as well as measures for preventing a recurrence. The agency also conducted an on-site inspection of the exchange on Friday to “ensure the protection of users,” Japan Times quoted Finance Minister Taro Aso explaining. The agency also plans to find out if Coincheck has the financial resources to repay its customers.

In addition, the FSA has ordered the internal inspections of all other cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan based on a checklist of 43 items, according to Jiji Press. They are to submit reports of their risk management systems such as the details of their systems to manage customer assets and cyberattack countermeasures.

Do you think Japan will have too many crypto exchanges? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Nikkei.


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