On April 25, 2018, cryptocurrency exchange platform "Everyone's Bitcoin" (みんなのビットコイン) published a notice (Japanese) regarding a business improvement order, which it recently received from the Kanto Local Finance Bureau (a regional department of Japan's Ministry of Finance). "We take this administrative punishment solemnly and sincerely, [and aim to] establish a posture for the proper and reliable execution of the virtual currency exchange industry," wrote the exchange. Everyone's Bitcoin humbly apologized to its customers and said that the company will work to restore their trust.
The company also explained a series of measures that it has implemented in order to comply with Article 63-16 of the Payment Services Act (Act No. 59 of 2009). These included:
- "Establishment of business management system
- Establishment of a management system related to money laundering and terrorist financing
- Construction of bookkeeping management system
- Establishment of management system related to user protection measures
- Build system risk management system and outsourcing management system
- With regard to the matters from (1) to (5) above, the content of measures taken shall be reported in writing until May 14, 2018, and at the request of the authorities from time to time as requested."
This is the first known action taken by a local Japanese government entity against a non-compliant cryptocurrency exchange. The majority of previous cryptocurrency-related enforcement actions have stemmed from the nation's Financial Services Agency (FSA). It appears that both the FSA and the Kanto Local Finance Bureau ultimately report to Tarō Asō, the deputy prime minister of Japan, who also serves as the minister of finance, minister of state for financial services, and minister in charge of overcoming deflation.
Earlier this month, the FSA halted operations at two cryptocurrency exchanges (Eternal Link and FSHO) and issued a business improvement order to a third exchange called Last Roots.
On Monday, the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association – which Everyone's Bitcoin is a member of – held its first meeting. The group appointed a chairman and two vice chairmen, but has yet to receive official recognition as a self-regulatory organization from Japanese government officials.
The dual nature of enforcement actions and oversight in Japan mirrors developments in the United States. While some state-level authorities have taken action including the Texas State Securities Board and NY Attorney General's Office, there have also been major actions on the federal level, including efforts by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). A self-regulatory organization proposed by the Winklevoss twins (owners of the Gemini digital asset exchange) is also part of the discussion in the US cryptocurrency regulatory arena.
Quotes translated as accurately as possible with assistance from Google Translate.