Japan is Catching up with Bitcoin

Bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular in Japan and trading volume in JPY is now surpassing that of the U.S. reaching its all-time high of 138 thousand bitcoins traded on the 11th of January. Today, JPY volume is still above the U.S, at 69.7 thousand, second only to China.

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BitFlyer is currently the lead exchange in trading volume. Coincheck, which recently introduced a service that allowed Japanese citizens to pay their electricity bills with Bitcoin, comes in third. The service launched by Coincheck in collaboration with E-Net is extremely useful, especially for Bitcoin miners.

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Japan’s emergence is extremely welcome for a truly decentralized Bitcoin that has so far been highly dominated by China and the United States. Bitcoin mining has also been largely concentrated in China, which can also be seen as concerning. If China were to make Bitcoin mining illegal, the network would be heavily affected.

Bitcoin in Japan

Bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular in Japan, not only as an investment vehicle but also as a payment system. A recent report highlights a survey that estimated the number of online and offline retailers that are accepting Bitcoin as a payment method has grown 4.6 times in the last year. According to the survey conducted in December, there are about 4,200 shops in Japan that accept Bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s rising popularity in the country can be observed, not only through trading volumes but also in Google’s search trends that show a growing interest. These reveal that “bitcoin” has reached its two years and 10 months peak in 2017.

Blockchain tech

Interest in Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain has been growing exponentially in the country as can be seen below in the Google trend chart below:

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In November, the first Japanese Blockchain consortium was created. Launched by financial services group SBI, the joint effort is comprised of 42 local and regional banks. The official statement by the SBI reads:

“The Consortium will promote discussion, from both technical and operational perspectives, on activities required in domestic and foreign exchange services to utilize blockchain and other new technologies, consolidate domestic and foreign exchange services, and build 24-hour and real-time remittance infrastructure, and will try to finish PoC by next March to move forward commercial base.”

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also taken notice of the technology, sending three blockchain startups abroad as part of a technology innovation program that seeks to form a bridge of innovation between Silicon Valley and Japan.