SBI Virtual Currencies: The Bank-Backed Japanese Exchange With Big Plans

admin 29th, June 2019
SBI Virtual Currencies: The Bank-Backed Japanese Exchange With Big Plans

Japan has been a land of firsts when it comes to crypto, even if "Satoshi Nakamoto" isn't really Japanese. It's the country where Mt. Gox — the first major crypto exchange — was based, as well as the first nation to accept bitcoin as legal tender. And last July, it became the first country to host a bank-owned cryptocurrency exchange, when financial services giant SBI Holdings launched the SBI Virtual Currencies (SBIVC) platform.

At the time of its launch, SBIVC — called VCTRADE at the time — enabled trades in only XRP, bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH). Yet, as limited as it may have been, its attachment to the SBI stable meant that it benefited from access to resources and technology other exchanges in Japan could only envy. And as SBI's latest financials revealed in April, the exchange has grown rapidly, recording pretax earnings of almost 360 million Japanese yen (approximately $3.2 million) for the fiscal year up until March 31, 2019.

But while it may still remain something of a minnow in a sea of BitFlyers and Coinchecks, it told Cointelegraph that it has plans to expand in the near and more distant future. Aside from widening its range of tradable cryptocurrencies, it also wants to branch out to institutional investors, as well as take advantages of potential "synergies" with its current businesses to provide one of the most secure and convenient exchanges in Japan.

SBI history lesson

Given that SBI had previously partnered with Ripple in 2017 to launch the first commercially available remittance service using XRP, it was perhaps unsurprising that on July 11, 2018, it announced the opening of its VCTRADE cryptocurrency exchange, which first offered only XRP for trading, adding bitcoin and bitcoin cash soon after launch.

However, beyond a crypto exchange arguably being a logical extension of a Ripple-based remittance service, SBI told Cointelegraph that it ultimately launched SBIVC because it believes in the innovative promise shown by cryptocurrencies.

"The SBI Group believe that innovative technologies, including blockchain and crypto-assets have large potential for changing the financial industry."

On top of this, the SBI spokesperson added that SBI wants to create an ecosystem of interconnected services and platforms, which will create efficiencies for SBI and extra value for customers.