Japan’s top brokers compete with crypto-native exchanges for market share

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According to research by Messari, the top three online brokerage firms in Japan are experiencing surging revenue from their cryptocurrency exchange services.

In its Asian Crypto Landscape report, Messari noted the operating revenue and net worth of exchange platforms operated by Japan’s top securities brokers is quickly catching up to that of their crypto-native rivals.

Comparison of net worth and operating revenue between exchanges operated by crypto-native firms versus online securities brokers in Japan, August 2020: Messari

Messari researcher Mira Christanto tweeted that Japan’s three-largest brokers by customer deposits — SBI, Rakuten, and Monex — all operate crypto exchange platforms.

Christanto also noted that many large asset managers are lobbying Japanese lawmakers to allow them to offer expanded cryptocurrency services and products, such as custody solutions and exchange-traded funds.

“Large asset management funds are lobbying the government to allow custody and ETFs. If they get the green light, the banks are already waiting by the sidelines to get in on the action.”

The report praises Japan’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency, or FSA, for supporting inclusive crypto regulations for many years, establishing the island nation as a regional hub for the digital asset industry.

Messari identified 26 licenses issued for digital currency exchanges that have been issued since being regulated in April 2017. BitFlyer is currently the largest Japanese exchange with over $1 billion in assets in custody and a net worth of $146 million, as of August 2020 according to the research.

Additionally, Japan’s institutional-grade Liquid exchange was listed in the top ten list of crypto unicorns by the end of 2019 — boasting a valuation exceeding $1 billion dollars.

The report also identifies a large number of high-profile mergers and investments as having taken place within Japan’s crypto industry.

In April 2018, major exchange Coincheck was acquired by online brokerage firm Monex Group. In October 2019, Financial Products Group, a publicly listed financial services provider, invested in Huobi Japan.