A consortium of Chinese and American bitcoin businesses has announced a plan to start a new Japan-based exchange, and is seeking to acquire Mt. Gox and its remaining assets as a means to bolster the new offering.
The joint venture, named BitOcean Japan, consists of Chinese ATM producer BitOcean and New York-based exchange technology platform Atlas ATS, a company that has been looking for a local partner to expand its global exchange network to the Asian market.
While the new venture is not a Mt. Gox rescue plan per se, and is not looking to resurrect the Gox name, its members are looking to purchase the bankrupt exchange's assets and will be making a submission to Nobuaki Kobayashi, the court-appointed trustee overseeing the Mt. Gox case.
Whether or not the submission is accepted by the court, BitOcean Japan will still open the new exchange with an official launch date in August. A test site with a functioning API is already online.
BitOcean was previously rumored to be joining major China-based bitcoin exchange OKCoin in a similar, unofficial Mt. Gox revival effort.
Damage is done
Unlike Sunlot Holdings, a group of investors seeking to buy and relaunch Mt. Gox under a similar branding, BitOcean has revealed it will be taking a different approach, should it be able to leverage the defunct company's assets as part of its effort.
BitOcean Japan co-founder and General Counsel, Daniel Kelman, explained the change of heart surrounding the name, saying:
"We kicked around the idea of using the Gox name because we felt that is would be best if we could prevent it from being forever a stain on bitcoin. We decided against using Gox because the damage has been done and is irreversible — we were all 'Goxxed' and, frankly, anytime someone in bitcoin gets ripped off from here until eternity it will be referred to as a 'Goxxing'. What is important is that people realize bitcoin is not Mt Gox in any sense of the word."
A more important issue now is distributing creditor assets without further waste, he added.
A May decision in the Mt. Gox case has opened up the exchange to a potential bidding process, though Kobayashi has stated that he has yet to formally consider any bids.
Atlas looks east
The move is also significant for Atlas ATS, which recently launched a 'nano exchange' aimed at enterprise trading and that is seeking to extend its product by leveraging local outlets strategically placed around the globe.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Atlas ATS Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Rafi Reguer noted the appeal of being associated with a Mt. Gox revival effort, stating:
"The primary reason for offering our technology is that we believe in their plan on bidding for Mt. Gox and their vision how to return faith to the bitcoin markets and to all of the people who lost either money or BTC in the bankruptcy."
He added: "We think it is an admirable thing that BitOcean is doing and we wanted to be a part of it".
BitOcean also had strong local knowledge in Asia, particularly China, he added, and forming a partnership was instrumental in starting a business in the region. Both businesses were committed to supporting both the businesses and people involved with digital currency.
The technology backing the Atlas ATS exchange platform also runs in over 50 Wall Street trading firms in the US and Canada, Reuger said.
Japan and JADA
Kelman said the decision to base the business in Japan was multifaceted. He noted the move aims to fill the market void left when Mt. Gox collapsed, and help Japan reclaim its status as bitcoin's 'spiritual home' thanks in part to Gox's beginnings in Tokyo and the name, if not the person behind it, of Satoshi Nakamoto.
BitOcean Japan is also looking to become a member of the Japan Association of Digital Asset (JADA) the new self-regulatory industry body which has the full blessing of Japan's government.
"We are very happy to see an organization in Japan existing to provide a means of communication between the industry and government," Kelman continued.
There have been no problems so far setting up banking relationships, which BitOcean Japan did before JADA's existence was announced. This had previously been seen as a barrier to future bitcoin businesses in the country, especially after the financial debacle surrounding Mt. Gox.
Despite BitOcean's ambitions to ensure Mt. Gox does live on in some form, Kelman was less enthusiastic about the exchange's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.
There are still no guarantees that Kobayashi plans to approve any rehabilitation plans for Mt. Gox, Kelman suggested, adding that his actions so far have appeared to favor prompt liquidation and a sale of Mt. Gox's remaining 200,000 bitcoins.
Kelman said attempts to contact Kobayashi directly had so far met with little success, with the trustee communicating mainly via paper mail and Mt. Gox's law firm.
The rival bid organized by Sunlot Holdings, which operates the SaveGox.com website, has also not yet been approved. BitOcean says the key difference between the plans is that BitOcean's backers are themselves Mt. Gox creditors, and would thus present a plan designed more to favor creditors' interests.
BitOcean in China
BitOcean Japan's parent company was one of the first bitcoin businesses to open in China, and is a permanent member of the international Bitcoin Foundation.
The company demonstrated its bitcoin ATM technology at May's Global Bitcoin Summit in Beijing, and is planning to launch a two-way bitcoin kiosk this month.
To learn more about BitOcean and its work in the bitcoin space, revisit our video interview with the company below.