Yahoo Japan is preparing to launch a cryptocurrency exchange, regional media sources say.
Nikkei Asian Review reported on Friday that the tech firm — originally a joint venture between Altaba (formerly Yahoo!) and Softbank — will begin an acquisition of BitARG Exchange Tokyo in April and will spend the next year using BitARG’s technology to build a full-fledged exchange that will launch in 2019.
Yahoo Japan’s initial investment will see YJFX — one of its subsidiaries — pay 2 billion yen (~$19 million) for a 40 percent stake in BitARG, which already has a license from the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) to operate a cryptocurrency trading platform.
Yahoo Japan will then make further investments in BitARG through other subsidiaries over the course of the next calendar year as it also scales up the platform’s operations in anticipation of its rebirth as a new exchange, which is tentatively scheduled for April 2019.
Japan has emerged as an important center for cryptocurrency trading in Asia since China forced the closure of exchanges on the mainland.
Previously, Japan had passed favorable cryptocurrency regulations, and these two factors have led several mainstream companies to begin developing cryptocurrency exchanges.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the largest financial institution in Japan as measured by assets under management (AUM), is readying plans to launch an exchange, regional media sources reported in January.
Line, a Japan-based chat app with more than 600 million registered users, also announced in January that it planned to create a cryptocurrency exchange that would operate not only in Japan but also Hong Kong and Luxembourg.
Finally, Japanese banking group SBI intends to build its own exchange, though it recently delayed the launch so it could strengthen its security measures — a move that came in response to increased scrutiny from the FSA.
The FSA has ramped up enforcement of the cryptocurrency trading industry in the months following a record-setting theft at Tokyo exchange Coincheck.
Most recently, the FSA issued a formal warning to Hong Kong-based exchange Binance for unlawfully operating in Japan without a license.