Coinbase opens Japanese office, puts ex-Morgan Stanley man at helm

Leading US crypto exchange, Coinbase, continues its move into Asia by opening office in Japan, courting its lucrative – but tightly policed – crypto market. 

Nao Kitazawa, whose CV includes a stint as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley, will soon become the new CEO of crypto exchange Coinbase’s Japanese operation, as the US concern attempts to achieve compliance with regulations in the country. Doing so will open up Coinbase’s operations to one of the more lucrative zones of the world cryptocurrency market, and forms part of what the company describes as “big plans” for the next year – according to Finance Magnets.

Operating in Japan will require registration with the Japan’s Financial Services Agency, a task that has become considerably tougher in the wake of the Coincheck affair, that saw over $500m-worth of NEM cryptocurrency stolen, and the generally increased appetite for policing the sector in the somewhat crypto-obsessed country. Japan, however, has been somewhat progressive in its wish to bring the sector under its authorities’ regulatory wing – rather than looking to make life difficult for exchanges to operate, as per China and India, it simply seeks to ensure that exchanges are held to the same high standards as other financial institutions. This oversight, however, has left some unable or unwilling to operate in the country – though may end up being a catalyst for wider participation in cryptocurrency by established financial players, and increased confidence among consumers.

In a statement, Coinbase said: “As in other markets, we plan to take a deliberate approach to our rollout in Japan, which means working hand-in-hand with the Japanese FSA to ensure compliance with local laws at every stage. Nao’s passion for cryptocurrency combined with his extensive background provides Coinbase with a great foundation to successfully push into the largest cryptocurrency market in the world. As a regulated, compliant crypto company in the U.S., we will focus on building that same level trust with new customers in Japan.”