Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Kraken, led by founder and CEO Jesse Powell, is looking to expand to Japan and fill the void left by failed bitcoin exchange MtGox.
Kraken is one of several competing players looking to gobble up Japan’s market share. Last month, Atlas ATS and BitOcean partnered to launch a new Japan-based exchange service. A former Goldman trader is looking to do the same, and reportedly received $1.6 million in funding.
This wouldn’t be Powell’s first stint operating a bitcoin exchange in Japan. He flew to Japan to help MtGox after it experienced a hacking 3 years ago, practically running the company’s operations while Mark Karpeles focused on reviving the service. He said:
“It was clear after that hack at Mt. Gox, when they were down for like a week, that the exchange is really the most critical piece of the ecosystem. I wanted there to be another one to take its place, if Mt. Gox failed.”
FXTM Appoints Marcelo Spina as Global Head of PartnershipsGo to article >>
A month after the trip, he founded a competitor- Kraken. Its customer base surged by 50% during the two months following the final MtGox collapse. Kraken dominates euro-denominated trading.
Powell has already got a foot in the door in Japan, being one of the founding members of Japan Authority of Digital Asset, along with CoinPass and BitFlyer.
During a visit in May to gather support amongst local politicians, he poses for a photo with Liberal Democratic Party parliamentarian Mineyuki Fukuda. Said Powell:
“I was really surprised how open-minded Japanese politicians are. Compared to Japan, the United States is in the Dark Ages.”
In the US, new FinCEN regulations have confined Kraken’s activities to South Carolina, Montana, Alabama, New Mexico and Massachusetts.