UK-based Wirex is entering a regional joint venture with Japanese financial group SBI that will deliver a Japanese cryptocurrency payment card.
Japan’s SBI Holdings, a major financial services group heavily invested in digital currencies and blockchain technology, is co-launching a joint venture with London-based Wirex called SBI Wirex Asia. The collaboration will see bitcoin startup Wirex make inroads into traditional markets already known to SBI while the Japanese company deepens its foray into establishing ties to the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.
With offices in Tokyo and Kiev beyond London, Wirex, formerly e-coin, has already gained a market in Japan as an issuer of bitcoin debit cards.
Wirex CEO Pavel Matveev stated:
Japanese customers are our most enthusiastic supporters and use our VISA-backed cryptocurrency debit card more regularly than anywhere else in the world. They deserve a Yen denominated card soon and we will deliver it to them.
The new joint venture comes after SBI’s participation in a $3 million Series A by Wirex earlier this year in the lead-up to Japanese legislation deeming bitcoin as a legal method of payment in April. A boom in both awareness in adoption of bitcoin has since followed, with an estimated 300,000 Japanese storefronts expected to be equipped to accept the cryptocurrency by the end of the year. Japan has also become the world’s largest bitcoin market in recent months following the closure of several major Chinese exchanges due to regulatory scrutiny in the country.
Wirex Japan CEO Wataru Kojima sees the country’s regulatory embrace of cryptocurrencies to drive adoption further. The executive stated:
Japan leads the world in bitcoin regulation and our accountants are armed with the tools to accept bitcoin on balance sheets.
Meanwhile, SBI Holdings is developing its own blockchain-based digital currency that will be tradeable with the Japanese yen, enabling customers to make store payments and peer-to-peer transactions instantly. SBI Wirex Asia will join SBI Ripple Asia as the latest blockchain-centric joint-venture for SBI Holdings.
SBI has also launched its own digital currency exchange in Japan and has previously led a record ¥3 billion ($27 million) funding round in Tokyo-based bitFlyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange.
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