Japan now has two new industry groups to support digital currency and blockchain business in the country, following the launch of the Japan Blockchain Association (JBA).
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JBA Replaces JADA
Formed in mid-April, the JBA replaces the former Japan Association of Digital Asset (JADA), which has been active in the industry since July 2014.
The new group includes high-profile members of the Japanese blockchain industry as well as member of Parliament (and long-time Bitcoin proponent) Mineyuki Fukuda and Japan’s primary financial regulator the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Speaking to Bitcoin.com, JBA’s Head of Global Affiliations and Partnerships Ayako Miyaguchi said both JADA and the government had received requests for a nationwide blockchain industry association.
“JADA was more focused on self regulations as it was necessary for the industry to gain trust from the public about bitcoin at that time,” she said, adding:
Blockchain covers broader technological advantages beyond currency and settlement. There was a need for us to address those at the same time as securing healthy regulations working with government authorities.
Rival Groups Have Similar Goals
There was perhaps some confusion this month with the launch of a rival group within Japan, called the Blockchain Collaborative Consortium (BCC) around the same time. The two groups share a common goal in growing and nourishing Japan’s blockchain industry despite their differences in leadership.
JBA will maintain the same advocacy and standards-setting mission as JADA, though with a broader view the issues blockchain technology may affect. Miyaguchi said, however, that eventually all existing and future businesses in the blockchain businesses would be advised to join JBA. She continued:
We are the point of contact to governmental authorities, as well as global associations including the Global Blockchain Forum.
JBA will have two divisions: one dealing with virtual currency and the other with blockchain technologies in general. The former group – which concerns consumer, tax and financial regulatory issues – includes bitcoin exchanges such as Kraken, bitFlyer and Coincheck.
The latter group – which concerns definition and policy proposals for non-currency blockchain tech – includes Microsoft Japan, payments gateway GMO Internet Group, blockchain cloud computing platform Orb and blockchain identity startup Soramitsu.
The group’s primary aims are to:
- Apply blockchain technology to social infrastructure and policy recommendations;
- Establish guidelines for bitcoin and other digital currency exchanges;
- Facilitate communication between the industry and government departments such as the FSA, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Consumer Affairs Agency and the National Police Agency and the Tax Bureau, as well as other financial and banking industry groups.
The Association will also promote and support its member businesses, organize promotional events, talk to similar industry groups internationally, and communicate with related and similar industry groups.
JBA counts several big players in the financial and payments space as official supporters, including Deloitte, Thomson Reuters, VC investors SBI Holdings, and credit card firm JCB.
Keep an Eye on Japan
Thanks to its regulatory approach and the government’s generally open-minded attitude to the technology, Japan could be fertile ground for digital currency and blockchain businesses.
Accurate news about the industry can sometimes be difficult to find, though, with vague reports often gaining prominence on social media and news aggregators.
English language news reported the Japanese government was considering legislating, or had already legislated, that Bitcoin would be defined as an official currency in the country.
That is not yet the case, Miyaguchi said. Bitcoin is not yet an official currency in Japan but the government has identified a need for it to be defined as something similar, in order to draft the most appropriate laws in future.
Can Japan be a world leader in developing digital currency and blockchain technology? How important are industry groups such as JBA and BCC?
Images courtesy of itpro.nikkeibp.co.jp, Shutterstock