SBI HOLDINGS FINALLY COMPLETES CRYPTO EXCHANGE LAUNCH: Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings has fully launched its long-awaited cryptocurrency trading platform. The platform, dubbed VCTRADE, was initially made available to select users last month, and will now be open to all users aged 20 to 70 in Japan. VCTRADE began with support for XRP, and has since added Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The public launch comes almost two years after SBI first announced its intention to build a cryptocurrency exchange.
Although SBI obtained a license from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) in September 2017, it postponed the launch of the exchange earlier this year to beef up its security measures in the wake of the Coincheck hack. Coincheck suffered the largest crypto hack in history in early 2018, when over $500 million in customer holdings were stolen from the exchange. That SBI decided to take the time to shore up its defenses bodes well for its platform, as it will not only help prevent against hacks, but also likely reassure consumers. For now, the platform is only available to retail investors. Moreover, this is the first cryptocurrency exchange to be launched by a traditional financial institution (FI), which will also likely increase investor trust.
As more FIs begin to dip their toes in the crypto trading pond — Goldman Sachs and Fidelity are reportedly among those eyeing the space — it will likely serve as a big vote of confidence for the market as a whole. That will likely help push cryptocurrencies further into the mainstream, ultimately transforming the industry into a more legitimate and accepted financial services sector. However, effectively managing risk will be crucial for these players, given the volatility associated with the crypto market and potential for damaging hacks. Those looking to launch their own operations would do well to follow SBI’s lead, and put sufficient effort into security measures before any wide deployment.