According to Business Insider Japan, SBI Holdings president Yoshitaka Kitao has confirmed the long-awaited full-scale launch of SBI Virtual Currencies in what will be the country’s first wholly bank-owned cryptocurrency exchange. The executive made the revelation during a press briefing on April 26th, stressing plans toward a launch in the summer which runs between June and September in Japan.
At launch, Yoshitaka said SBI Virtual Currencies will support bitcoin, ripple, ethereum, bitcoin cash and other cryptocurrencies. Yoshitaka, who also serves as executive chairman, chief executive and president of SBI Holdings, bullishly claimed that the bank-backed exchange will quickly make ground in a burgeoning cryptocurrency space to “be number one” in a competitive Japanese ecosystem.
He reportedly said, in roughly translated statements:
When we do it, it will be number one in the blink of an eye, so quickly. So, even if a tremendous number of customers come, we will have a system that can bear [the influx of users]. We [also] have to pursue safety [norms and standards] thoroughly.
The SBI Group first announced plans to launch a cryptocurrency exchange in October 2016, establishing SBI Virtual Currencies Co., Ltd., on November 1, 2016 in Tokyo-Japan with 300 million yen (approx. $2.85 million USD) in working capital.
However, despite completing its registration as a cryptocurrency exchange operator with Japan’s Financial Services Agency (the country’s financial regulator), the launch has seen a number of delays.
In late February 2018, the SBI Group once again postponed the launch after determining it had to strengthen security measures to better safeguard customer assets. The revelation came within a month of the infamous $530 million theft in NEM tokens from Tokyo-based crypto exchange Coincheck.
Subsequently, in March, SBI announced a 40% ownership stake in Taiwanese crypto hardware maker CoolBitX, a developer specializing in cold wallets that store private keys to cryptocurrencies and interfaces with smartphones via Bluetooth.
A prolific investor in the cryptocurrency sector, SBI Holdings previously lead an investment round in bitFlyer, Japan’s largest and best-funded cryptocurrency exchange. SBI Holdings has also co-launched SBI Ripple Asia with San Francisco-based Ripple to help develop and usher the adoption of blockchain cross-border payments among banks in ASEAN nations and beyond.