Japan’s BitFlyer Raids Banking Talent in Bid For Global Crypto Exchange

Yuzo Kano, chief executive of major Japanese exchange bitFlyer is trying to build a global cryptocurrency powerhouse, one former financier at a time.

The Goldman Sachs Group alumnus who made bitFlyer Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange has doubled his staff in the past six months in a bid for global expansion. His team, which is expected to reach 300 this year, includes a fixed income chief at Barclays Plc and a former Credit Suisse Group AG senior private banker, according to Bloomberg.

Deregulation Boosts Options In Japan

Kano has taken advantage of Japan’s cryptocurrency deregulation whereby exchanges are now licensed by the country’s securities regulator, enhancing their credibility. Kano views Japan as the best place to launch a global operation.

A former convertible bonds and derivatives trader, Kano said he has to expand his staff to become the top exchange, and the skills he needs usually come from global banks.

BitFlyer is already the fourth largest exchange behind BitMex, Binance and OKEx, according to data from Bloomberg, Coinhills and Coinmarketcap.com.
Its transactions averaged around $2 billion daily in late April and early May, due to bitcoin margin contracts favored by Japan’s day traders. The exchange’s users tripled to 2 million in the past year.

Global Offices Planned

With offices in Tokyo, San Francisco and Luxembourg, Kano hopes to open offices in Australia, South America, Africa and Asia. He also plans to expand into digital payments and a broker advisory service for startups interested in ICOs. His strategy resembles that of fellow Goldman alumnus Mike Novogratz, who recently launched a New York crypto merchant bank.

Many would agree with Kano that former traders and bankers bring good backgrounds to crypto since they know how to work in regulated markets. This is becoming more important as governments learn more about crypto. Last month, bitFlyer strengthened its AML rules when a Nikkei newspaper revealed that users can conduct limited functions without fully fulfilling customer verification…

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