As cryptocurrencies boom, Japan looks to finally move on from scandals

Japan Times -- May 11
With investors around the world fueling another crypto asset boom since late last year, elevating the values of digital currencies such as bitcoin, Japanese players in the space are hopeful that the country will be able to advance to the next stage after undergoing a period of scrutiny and renewal.

Perhaps, the most symbolic indication of the local industry’s progress is the steady growth recorded by Coincheck Inc., which is now under Monex Group Inc., an online brokerage.

A hacking attack that hit Coincheck in January 2018 put a wet blanket on a growing cryptocurrency frenzy. In the aftermath of the massive cryptocurrency heist, which saw ¥58 billion worth of NEM coins taken from the Tokyo-based startup, Japan’s cryptocurrency market appeared to have lost vigor amid an intensified crackdown on virtual currency exchange operators by the country’s financial watchdog.

According to fiscal 2020 earnings released by Monex Group last month, Coincheck’s revenue jumped by more than fivefold to ¥20.8 billion compared with the previous year. Of the 260,000 users that it gained, about 210,000 were concentrated in the second half of the business year that ended in March, indicating that many users have hopped on the latest crypto bandwagon.

When Coincheck was hit by the cyberattack, the firm was criticized for neglecting consumer protection amid its sharp growth. That incident highlighted the fact that many exchange operators, which were startups, did not have experience and know-how in properly running online-based financial services, prompting the government to issue a series of reprimands, some of which even ordered the suspension of operations.

- Japan Times