“Japan is the largest bitcoin trading market in the world, about 50% of it happens in there; the U.S. is the second biggest market,” Bartek Ringwelski, chief operating officer at BitFlyer USA, told Bank Innovation. “The value proposition lies in allowing these two markets to interact and being able to unlock liquidity for our customers in Japan.”
Based in San Francisco, Calif., BitFlyer — which claims to be the largest cryptocurrency exchange in Japan — launched in the U.S. in 42 states last week. The last state it received approval is New York, which has only approved four other cryptocurrency exchanges so far.
“The process was incredibly vigorous and took months,” Ringwelski said. “[New York] is setting the benchmark for the standard that will continue to evolve, and they are at the forefront in the U.S. on how to create a safe and thriving cryptocurrency market.”
For now, bitFlyer has launched with just bitcoin, but will be adding other altcoins like Ethereum and Litecoin in 2018. When they will be launched, Ringwelski declined to say.
The goal for bitFlyer is to focus on financial institutions and institutional investors, he said. Unlike in Japan where most of the bitcoin traders are retail investors, in the U.S. are institutions.