Binance returns to Japan with Sakura acquisition

Acquisition gives the largest crypto exchange its first licence in East Asia

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Japan was one of the first countries to develop a regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency sector – Photo:Shutterstock
                                

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, has won a foothold in the Far East with the purchase of Sakura Exchange Bitcoin (SEBC), a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange regulated by the Japan Financial Services Agency, for an undisclosed sum. 

This is the latest effort by Binance to enter the Japanese market, after years of regulatory opposition and uncertainty. 

In a statement, the company said that it “aims to support a responsible global environment for cryptocurrencies.” 

Japan was one of the first countries to develop a regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency sector, having been rocked by the notorious collapse of the Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Mt Gox in 2014. 

In 2021, the FSA warned Japanese consumers that Binance was conducting unauthorised trades in the country. It had warned of the same activity three years earlier. 

Binance Japan’s general manager, Takeshi Chino, responding to the acquisition, said: “We will actively work with regulators to develop our combined exchange in a compliant way for local users. We are eager to help Japan take a leading role in crypto.”

Binance did not require regulatory approval to acquire Sakura. However, the FSA will intervene should changes in shareholder structure and internal controls affect compliance.

Firm at the centre of the FTX scandal pledges to rebuild crypto sector

Binance itself has been at the centre of the latest scandal to knock investor and regulatory confidence in the cryptocurrency industry. 

At the start of tNovember 2022, the company’s founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, announced his intention to sell over $500m (£420m) worth of FTT, the utility token of FTX, after reports of fraud by the rival exchange’s leadership. 

This announcement precipitated the equivalent of a bank run on FTX. After further details of potential fraud emerged, the company filed for bankruptcy. 

In the aftermath, Zhao said that crypto “is not going away” and pledged to help “rebuild” the sector. 

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