First Bank-Run Crypto Exchange Opens in Japan

Japanese internet banking provider SBI has rolled out a cryptocurrency trading platform called VCTRADE, making it the first of its kind in the country.

SBI Simushin Net Bank, a Japanese lender mostly operating on the internet, has announced the launch of cryptocurrency exchange VCTRADE, creating the first-ever digital asset platform run by a bank.

“To handle virtual currencies, we are first planning to handle XRP and then expand it to Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), respectively. In addition to this, we have the industry’s lowest spread, as well as the world’s best low-latency trading environment using the matching engine of the leading US stock exchange NASDAQ,” the company said.

SBI added it would operate wallet services for its customers and provide free transactions.

The company has been talking about the launch of VCTRADE since 2016, last touching on the subject during an earnings call in May this year.

“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 can build a system that can bear. We have to pursue safety thoroughly,” CEO Yoshitaka Kitao said during the call.

The fact that a bank is launching such an exchange might help rebuild the trust of the Japanese public in cryptocurrencies after the Coincheck scandal dealt a massive blow to it.

The trading platform could simply piggyback on the bank’s own security infrastructure, making it less likely for funds to be siphoned off by hackers.

This is not the first cryptocurrency-related endeavor the bank has embarked on. In 2017, SBI Holdings partnered with UK-based Wirex to kickstart a project revolving around a payment card for cryptocurrencies.

SBI’s partnership was probably foreshadowing the launch of VCTRADE as it would be convenient for traders to spend their earnings directly through a Visa-issued debit card without having to convert them to fiat beforehand.