Kraken, one of the longest-operating cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, is pulling out of Japan. Kraken attributed the exit to the rising cost of doing business in the country, but said that it might return in the future. The exact dates for suspending trading and funding have not been determined yet, and the San Francisco-based exchange promised to contact its clients residing in Japan when this happens.
THE EXODUS FROM JAPAN
Japan has been a pioneer in the cryptocurrency industry, having been the first country to recognize Bitcoin as a legal mode of payment. However, the script has been gradually changing since the hacking of the Coincheck exchange, which saw over $500 million worth of crypto stolen. The nation’s Financial Services Agency has since clamped down on many crypto exchanges, which has led to the closure of a couple of them including Mr. Exchange and Tokyo Gateway.
Perhaps the biggest exchange to come under scrutiny from the FSA has been Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by daily trading volume. Binance had been operating in Japan ever since China outlawed crypto exchanges but was unable to secure a license with the FSA. This has led the exchange to seek alternative locations in which to set up operations, with Malta being the preferred option. According to Japanese media reports, the FSA feared that Binance did not have adequate control measures in place to prevent illegal activities, especially given its large anonymous crypto holdings.
SHIFTING FOCUS TO OTHER AREAS
According to Kraken’s statement, which was leaked on Twitter, the suspension of services for Japanese residents will allow the company to shift its focus to other geographical areas and use its resources to improve its services in those areas
The statement also expressed the company’s regret at having to suspend its services for Japanese residents, having served them since October 2014, as well as its hope that in the future, it will reintroduce its services in Japan. However, the consideration of revenue against the costs required to maintain services made it impractical to continue offering them at this time.
While no official dates were offered, the statement indicated that the last day for deposits would be in mid-May, while the last day of trading would be in mid-June. The last day of withdrawals was indicated as being towards the end of June. The suspension of service only affects residents of Japan and will not affect Japanese residents or businesses that are domiciled outside Japan.