SBI to Launch First Bank-Backed Digital Currency Exchange

Japan is set to get another digital currency exchange.

Oct 27, 2016 at 5:12 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:35 p.m. UTC

A Japanese financial services group is set to launch the first bank-backed digital currency exchange.

SBI announced today that it is establishing a new company, dubbed SBI Virtual Currencies Co., Ltd., that will provide exchange services for as-yet-undisclosed digital currencies. The venture is being funded with 300m yen (roughly $2.8m USD at press time) in new capital, according to the firm.

While the launch date was not disclosed, SBI said it would officially form the company next month and will provide future updates as to the specific kinds of services the exchange will offer. The new company will be headquartered in Tokyo.

According to translated statements, the company said that it was moving to capture a “new value asset management opportunity”. SBI also cited positive regulatory conditions in Japan as a driving factor behind the decision to launch an exchange.

The plan represents what is perhaps SBI’s most aggressive move in the digital currency and blockchain space to date.

SBI Holdings took part in Ripple’s $55m Series B funding round earlier this, and also invested in bitFlyer, a Japanese bitcoin exchange, through its venture capital subsidiary. SBI previously announced that it was working with Ripple to create a new joint venture.

Beyond investing, SBI has worked with other financial firms in Japan to test blockchain applications in areas like currency settlement and digital banking.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has ownership stakes in bitFlyer and Ripple.

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