Thanks to blockchain and cryptocurrency, Japan’s economy may have greener pastures ahead. As the country’s GDP growth shrinks to lows last seen in the 1990s financial crisis — a.k.a. the “lost decade” — economists point to a technological boom as a potential catalyst for recovery.
Now the second-largest cryptocurrency market in the world, Japan may engineer its own salvation as a world leader of the of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). Characterized by the fusion of IoT, AI, robotics, blockchain and various breakthrough technologies — the 4IR might be seen as a smorgasbord of Japan’s strong-suits.
As of March 2018, the East Asian nation has at least 3.5 million citizens trading cryptocurrencies — yet the Japanese appear particularly partial to Bitcoin.
According to data aggregated by the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s BTC annual trade volume saw a 444,000% increase in the last three years — up from $22 million in 2014 to $97 billion at the close of 2017.
Corporate Japan: Bullish or Bearish?
While Japanese traders may have an insatiable appetite for both blockchain and cryptocurrency, corporate Japan has also gone big.
This rhetoric seemed to set the tone for June 2018’s Japan Blockchain Conference — one of the nation’s largest events to date.
Addressing the conference, CEO of financial services giant SBI Holdings stated:
“Blockchain related innovations will fuel the blast for the Japanese economy after the years of economic imbalance.”
– Yoshitaka Kitao
Spurred on by fresh regulation in the wake of the infamous Mt Gox hack, a string of Japanese giants have entered the decentralized economy. For one, Yamada Denki — one of Japan’s largest retailers of electronics — recently moved to accept payments in Bitcoin.
While accepting cryptocurrency as payment may be a win for adoption, Japanese industry appears equally focused on innovation. Several monoliths have created their own cryptocurrencies, exchanges, payment platforms and acquire existing operations.
After purchasing Bitcoin payments platform Bitnet in 2016, electronics and eCommerce giant Rakuten has announced plans to offer Rakuten Coin — a “borderless” cryptocurrency useful for rewards and purchases on the company’s platforms. The aforementioned SBI Holdings now operates its own cryptocurrency exchange, VCTRADE.
As the Japanese government continues to test the balance between regulation and repression of cryptocurrency, corporate sponsorship may well be the nation’s golden ticket.
Cover Photo by Erik Eastman on Unsplash