Although many people and countries can’t seem to get over the bitcoin fever, one country, in particular, is head over heels for the hottest coin in the crypto world and that country happens to be Japan.
Japanese’s have embraced this cryptocurrency and have been very passionate about it for quite some time now. Talking about the passion for Bitcoin in Japan, reports suggest that almost one-third of bitcoin transactions made globally in December were in the Japanese official currency, the yen.
This huge development led to the suggestion by many cryptocurrency analysts that the well-known Mrs. Watanabe, the shorthand for individual foreign exchange investors in Japan, was the reason for the explosive euphoria behind the price of bitcoin which saw it rise to over $19,000 for the first time before dipping in form.
Bitcoin has caught the eyes of many investors who see the cryptocurrency as a sure way to make some quick buck. One of these investors is Mai Fujimoto who is popularly known for Japanese social media as “Miss Bitcoin” who says she now invests her entire savings in the cryptocurrency that is blowing up in Japan.
“I convert all my disposable income into cryptocurrency,” the 32-year-old tells AFP. “I’ve been doing this for nearly a year now. I convert all my savings into cryptocurrency instead of putting them in a bank,” she stated when talking to reporters.
Bitcoin’s Journey in Japan
Truth be told, bitcoin’s journey into Japan wasn’t a smooth one at the beginning. The virtual currency made its entry into the mainstream in Japan in 2014, a time where Mt. Gox, a Tokyo based bitcoin exchange had bagged almost 70% of the global turnover of Bitcoin trading in its pocket. In the second month of that same year, Mt. Gox out of the blue shut down its website and also closed its exchange after it came to light that the bitcoin exchange had been hacked.
$450 million worth of bitcoins were missing with many believing that they were stolen. This series of events led to an unpleasant outcome in the country with Mark Karpels, the CEO getting arrested and charged with embezzlement and fraud. Bitcoin’s image in Japan was then considered nothing more than some kind of currency associated with theft, fraudulent transactions and Ponzi schemes and for some years to come, it remained the same.
Things eventually started to change about bitcoin in Japan when a bitcoin exchange named Bitflyer was created by a group with a former Goldman Sachs trader.
Another bitcoin exchange named QUIONE also was started in Japan and this time by a Singapore based company. These new developments gradually build bitcoin’s damaged reputation from the ground up to the top again. A turning point then arrived when some local cryptocurrencies such as Monacoin made an appearance into the crypto world.
Then came 2017, the breakthrough year for the crypto world. Crypto trading in Japan sky-rocketed in Japan when the Payment Services Act made it possible for virtual currencies to be deemed as legal forms of payment in Japan. Before that, Korea and China had shut down all cryptocurrency exchanges as well as placing a ban on all cryptocurrency related activities popularly known as ICOs. This placed Japan in a comfortable position as well as cryptocurrency trading was concerned and are now reaping its benefits.
The approval of the operation of 11 cryptocurrency exchanges officially by the FSA (Financial regulators of Japan) in September also proved to be a huge positive for Japan’s crypto trading. To add icing to the cake, 17 cryptocurrencies were also given the green light to be traded on these exchanges. Notable ones included Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, and Ethereum.
Another factor for the rise of bitcoin in Japan is the removal of the consumption tax which was discouraging investors outside of Japan from buying bitcoins on Japan’s market. This was made possible by another tax reform on the 1st of July.
The future of Bitcoin in Japan
Japan has the world’s third-biggest economy and with the inclusion of digital currencies into the economy, it is no surprise that a major growth is being expected in the coming years.
As a matter of fact, some highly ranked companies in Japan have begun accepting bitcoin as a form of payment. GMO, a Japanese internet company also announced last year that, starting in February this year, some of the salaries of its employees will be paid in the form of cryptocurrency. The company stated that the option will be gradually available to all of its full-time employees, a number which exceeds 4,000.
Employees who will be on board with the plan will have the option to select how much of their monthly salary they want to receive in bitcoin. This is at the lowest an amount of $88 and a maximum of $882.
Koji Higashi, an expert in the crypto-business in Japan, speaking on these positive initiatives to the crypto world stated that: “The involvement of big companies, the sense of security derived from government approval and media exposure really brought in a whole new group of people to the market.”
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