Japanese bitcoin exchange bitFlyer has announced plans to begin operations in the United States.
Tokyo-based bitFlyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume and one of the largest in the world, has now opened an office in San Francisco ahead of its launch in the country in the fall of 2017. Notably, the exchange revealed it has already obtained approval to operate in 34 states in the country. The exchange will enable customers to buy and sell bitcoin through its wholly-owned subsidiary, bitFlyer USA Inc.
Underlining its US expansion as the first foray of the bitcoin exchange beyond Japan’s borders, bitFlyer CEO Yuzo Kano stated:
While Bitflyer, Inc. is headquartered in Japan, my vision was always to create a global company, and I am excited that the US will be its first step toward global expansion. Bitcoin is a global currency, now our exchange will be global too.
The announcement of bitFlyer’s expansion comes within weeks of Hong Kong-based bitcoin exchange Bitfinex announcing plans to quit the US market citing a challenging regulatory landscape among a number of other factors. For bitFlyer, an exchange platform that has seen $30 billion in bitcoin trading so far this year alone, the expansion coincides with the rise of “Mrs.Wantanbe” – the retail investor class in Japan increasingly becoming a major force in foreign currency trading as a means to combat low interest rates in Japan.
“There is a concept of ‘Mrs. Watanabe’ in the Japanese forex market; she is the personification of household trading in Japan. Bitflyer aims to be the first exchange to allow US bitcoin traders to trade with Mrs. Watanabe,” added bitFlyer COO Bartek Ringwelski.
Last year, bitFlyer raised ¥3 billion ($27 million) in a Series C funding round, amassing over $35 million in funding to date. The funding has helped bitFlyer develop its own domestic blockchain payments platform called ‘miyabi’. An early pilot in late 2016 saw a number of major banks test the platform with results outperforming the technology of the traditional banking system. Indeed, come February 2017, all three of Japan’s ‘megabanks’ figured as investors in bitFlyer.
Targeting professional and institutional traders initially, bitFlyer will offer BTC/USD trading at launch. The exchange also revealed plans to support “other trading pairs and products” in the future.