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Big in Japan: Coinbase Expands Eastwards

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 1 min read

American cryptocurrency exchange giant and wallet provider Coinbase announced that they are launching an office in Japan, “as part of our effort to accelerate the global adoption of cryptocurrency.”

Source: iStock/JulieanneBirch

Coinbase intends to apply for a license with the country’s financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), “within the year,” the company said in its blog post. This process has been mandatory for all crypto exchanges operating in the country since April 2017, when the Japan’s Payment Services Act was amended.

According to the announcement, the office will be under the leadership of Nao Kitazawa, described as “highly-respected and admired fintech leader.” Nao has previous experience working at Morgan Stanley Japan as an investment banker, followed by becoming the COO of Money Design, a company that helped pioneer automated investment advice platforms in Japan. Now serving as CEO of Coinbase Japan, Nao will be “charged with building a world-class in-country team and ensuring that we deliver on our vision of creating an open financial system for the world,” the announcement says.

The US company is said to be working together with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) on its expansion to the Japanese market. According to reports, MUFG has invested over 1 billion yen (around USD 9 million) in Coinbase since 2004.

The Japanese yen now accounts for more than half of all traditional fiat currencies traded into Bitcoin, as reported by According to Kazuyuki Shimamura, Director of the Financial System Stabilization Planning Office at the Financial Services Agency of Japan, this is due to local legislation, as the Japanese government last year amended its banking law and introduced the Virtual Currency Act.

However, Coinbase is strengthening its positions in other regions, too. In March, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority granted Coinbase an e-money license, which will also be extended beyond the UK to 23 countries within the EU. It means that Coinbase is allowed to issue e-money and provide payment services in the UK.

Coinbase has also focused on working closely with regulators to improve its security and compliance standards lately, with recent reports emerging that the company is attempting to obtain a federal banking charter for its US operations.