Japan penalizes several cryptocurrency exchanges


Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - Page 10

The Japanese government is slapping penalties on several crypotocurrency exchanges in the country, after ¥58 billion (US$548 million) of virtual coins were lost earlier this year from hacking.

The Japanese Financial Services Agency, which has been checking the exchanges, yesterday said that FSHO and Bit Station exchanges were ordered to halt operations for one month.

It said FSHO was not properly monitoring trades and had not carried out employee training.

The agency said it found that a Bit Station employee had taken bitcoins for personal use.

Five other exchanges, including Coincheck Inc, targeted in the massive hacking, were ordered to improve their operations.

Coincheck had received a similar order earlier to beef up security measures.

Japan is unusual in the world for embracing cryptocurrencies and setting up a licensing system to oversee their use.

The exchanges ordered to improve their operations must file a plan to the agency by March 22.

The theft at Coincheck of the NEM currency was the second major hacking assault on a Japanese cryptoexchange after the Mt. Gox debacle in 2014.

However, Japan has chosen to regulate exchanges, setting up a licensing system last year, although experts said that such measures are no guarantee against cybercrime.

Japan has officially licensed 16 virtual-currency exchanges, and more, including Coincheck, are applying for licenses. As much as half of the world’s bitcoin trading is estimated to be in yen.

Some countries like China are cracking down on virtual currencies, while other countries like the US have been cautious, encouraging their use in limited ways.

Japan has been far more accommodating to cryptocurrencies, attracting new businesses in the technology called blockchain.