|Aug 09, 2018 04:25 AM||By: Guest Author | 2835 Views|
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have mainly become tools for speculative investment in recent months. Recently, a DEA agent explained that around 90% of all Bitcoin moving between wallets used to be associated with crimes. The number has fallen dramatically to 10% with the rise of the virtual currency market, particularly in late 2017, as investors and traders entered the space with fear of missing out on the new and trendy asset class.
The five largest cryptocurrencies were responsible for a trading volume of ¥69 trillion in fiscal 2017 in Japan, with users reaching 3.5 million. Instead of using virtual coins for payments, the Japanese mostly traded in search of profit, a senior official of a major cryptocurrency exchange told Japan Times.
“Young users who had previously no connection (with cryptocurrencies) have increased at a breathless pace.”
Margin trading is behind the cryptocurrency trading explosion in Japan as investors are offered leverage by online trading companies to seek higher exposure while having little capital. The virtual currency market has no leverage cap, unlike the Forex market which is limited to 25:1 leverage in Japan. This is due to being outside the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. The market is also exempt from regulatory requirements covering anti-insider trading and other issues the financial services industry is subject to.
What the FSA now recognizes is that they mostly focused on payments and remittances for their cryptocurrency regulation via the revised the Payment Services Act in April 2017. These security measures for the cryptocurrency space don’t cover the use of virtual currencies as speculative investment assets.
Contrary to the FSA’s expectations, the Japanese people, as well as the rest of the world, found the cryptocurrency market as an investment opportunity, not only by merely holding Bitcoin et al. but also through investing in initial coin offerings that have become popular since 2017. The Coincheck hack in January 2018 also disclosed the vulnerabilities of exchange operators in Japan. Instead of focusing on payments, regulation must be set up to protect investors in the crypto space, and an expert told Japan Times.
“Virtual currencies should be positioned as assets for investment, while a legal system to protect investors needs to be established as a matter of urgency.”
The Financial Services Agency set up a working group in April 2018 to make corrections to the current regulation to focus on the actual practice of the market, including margin trading and insider trading.