Yuzo Kano, a former derivatives trader at Goldman Sachs, has quit his day job to spearhead a new bitcoin exchange in Japan.
The new exchange, called bitFlyer, will facilitate yen-based trading with bitcoins. The exchange aims to fill the gaping in Japan left by MtGox’s collapse, on which Kano commented:
“That’s one less competitor for us, but it also left many Japanese with a very negative impression of bitcoin. We already had a company then and felt it was up to us to rebuild the trust.”
He added: “If we have another fiasco like Mt. Gox, it’s game over. There needs to be monitoring to prevent that from happening.”
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bitFlyer will differ from most exchanges in that it will act as the counterparty to trades instead of bringing together buyers and sellers. Kano believes that this will make trading simpler, but also introduces risk. In a sense, bitFlyer is more of a trader than an exchange. Kano says that experience with derivatives and managing risk will come in useful.
Other ventures are vying for the Japanese market. BitOcean Japan is a composite of Chinese ATM company BitOcean and Atlas ATS, a US-based bitcoin exchange platform provider. Kraken is also planning a Japanese website for bitcoin-yen trading as well, a trend similar to that of Chinese exchanges looking to expand westward.
Kano has already raised 160 million yen ($1.6 million) for the new venture and is looking to overseas investors for more. He aims to use the additional funding for overseas expansion.
Kano actually served in two stints at Goldman Sachs. With a Masters’ degree in fluid dynamics, he developed an appreciation for complex systems. After working as an analyst, he left to BNP Paribas SA to learn how to trade, after which he returned to Goldman.