Japan Weighing Bitcoin Exchange Rules Amid Mt Gox Investigation

Stan Higgins
Aug 4, 2015 at 23:30 UTC
Updated Aug 5, 2015 at 18:38 UTC
news

UPDATE (5th August 6:50 BST): This story has been updated with comment from the Federal Services Agency.


JapanJapanese government officials are weighing whether to regulate bitcoin exchanges in the wake of new developments in the ongoing investigation of Mt Gox.

Media reports from The Japan Times and The Japan News suggest that the government, including those from the country’s Financial Services Agency, may seek to implement a registration system for exchange operators. Such a framework may include a licensing scheme and user identification requirements.

The Times quoted Finance Minister Taro Aso who said that government officials would need to “carry out studies” on how to properly regulate digital currency exchanges.

The news follows the arrest of Mt Gox CEO Mark Karpeles on Friday. The former Bitcoin Foundation board member faces market manipulation and embezzlement charges related to the now-defunct business, and comes nearly a year after the government decided against implementing regulation.

According to The Times, investigators believe Mt Gox may have been insolvent as early as November 2013, months before the exchange fully halted withdrawals and subsequently declared bankruptcy. Other reports suggest that the seizure of $5m in bitcoin by US officials may have exacerbated the situation.

When reached for comment, a representative the Financial Services Agency told CoinDesk:

“We are aware of some media reports writing about regulation systems to be applied to the trading of virtual currencies. However, no official decision has been made yet regarding the FSA’s stance in relation to bitcoins and other virtual currencies.”

CoinDesk will continue monitoring this developing story.

Japan image via Shutterstock