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Yahoo Japan Doubles Down on Crypto, Rakuten in Regulatory Push

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Some of Japan’s biggest internet companies are making big moves in the country’s cryptocurrency industry – with Yahoo Japan making a large-scale investment, and a Rakuten-fronted group pushing for the regulator to reform and clarify proposed crypto tax and initial coin offering policies.

Source: iStock/Nuthawut Somsuk

Yahoo Japan made a bold debut on the scene last year, snapping up a 40% stake in the Financial Services Agency-approved TaoTao cryptocurrency exchange (formerly known as bitARG). And the company has now struck a funding deal with crypto tax experts Aerial Partners. The scale of Yahoo’s investment is undisclosed, but Aerial says it has recently received at least USD 1.6 million in funding from a range of companies, including Yahoo Japan’s Z Corporation crypto business arm – as well as two venture capital companies.

The deal comes days after Aerial Partners inked a deal with Tokyo-based FSA-approved exchange Quoine, which may allow the exchange’s customers to conduct tax-related calculations using the former’s software tools.

For its part, Yahoo Japan is also keen on launching its own crypto exchange, and the company has previously indicated that it may well do so in the coming months – with the spring of 2019 its tentative target, subject to the exchange attaining FSA approval. The company will also launch a cryptocurrency-focused media venture next month.

Meanwhile, the Japan Association of New Economy, a business group fronted by the CEO of crypto-keen e-commerce giant Rakuten, has called on the FSA to clarify its initial coin offering (ICO) stance and amend tax policies in light of a study group report issued late last year.

The association, whose other members include Japanese internet and gaming companies, issued a press release asking the FSA to consider taxing cryptocurrency transactions at the same 20% flat rate as it applies to stock- and foreign exchange-related deals. It also wants the FSA to allow traders to conduct tax-free crypto-to-crypto transactions.

The FSA’s 2018 report indicated that the regulator may consider creating several different categories of ICO, and applying a different regulatory framework to each category. The association wants the FSA to clarify these categories and asked for exceptions to be made for certain cases, as well as asking that exchanges’ “responsibilities not be made excessive” when dealing with ICOs and tokens.

Rakuten is also known to be keen on launching its own exchange in Japan, last year purchased domestic exchange Everybody’s Bitcoin and is looking to launch its own cryptocurrency – which it hopes to integrate and launch in Russia through its Viber chat app.