Bitcoin officially legal payment method in Japan since April: Western Governments take note.
Bitcoin officially legal payment method in Japan since April: Western Governments take note. Bitcoin is a phenomenon that provokes conflicting emotions in people. Fear. Excitement. Elation. Doubt. For governments tasked with regulating every new thing that comes along, be it the motor car or the internet, bitcoin presents a conundrum. How to regulate such a seemingly unregulatable creation? While many western governments have reached for the button marked “Fear”, Japan has taken the reverse approach. kamerpower.com
Bitcoin has been an officially legal payment method in Japan since April, when 4,500 stores began accepting the cryptocurrency, and leading financial newspaper, the Nikkei, tips that figure to increase five-Japan Teaches Western Governments a Lesson in Cryptocurrency Regulation fold by the end of the year. Japanese shoppers can spend bitcoin in a range of stores including electronics giant Bic Cam and bitcoin signs are displayed prominently, helping to raise awareness. BTMs – ATMs that exchange fiat for bitcoin – are scattered throughout the country, and there’s even the ability to pay utility bills complete with a special bitcoin discount via Remixpoint.
Following the Mt Gox collapse, in which the country’s (and indeed the world’s) largest bitcoin exchange liquidated, losing 850,000 bitcoins, Japanese regulators stepped in. Rather than try to stem the use of cryptocurrency, they enacted regulations which mandated exchanges to maintain capital reserves, keep customer funds separate, and implement KYC procedures. Meanwhile, many western governments have dithered over cryptocurrency regulation.
“Australia follows Japan in move to regulate bitcoin” ran the headline in the Financial Times. It all sounds so promising, but delve into the story and it becomes evident that Australia is not about to start rolling out BTMs and putting up bitcoin signs in its retail stores.
“Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defences and we expect regulated businesses in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime,” states the country’s justice minister in Orwellian terms.
Japan hasn’t been shy when it comes to weighing in on bitcoin, as its stringent KYC regulations and new ICO guidelines show. But it’s tempered this with an open invitation to exchange owners, entrepreneurs, crypto pioneers, and bitcoin enthusiasts that says “We’re open for business”. Western governments could learn a lot.