SBI Virtual Currencies announced today that its new cryptocurrency exchange, VCTRADE, is open to the public, according to the company’s website.
VCTRADE is the world’s first bank-backed cryptocurrency exchange.
SBI Virtual Currencies was registered as a brand name in October 2016 by SBI Holdings, which is itself a division of Tokyo-based financial corporation SBI Group.
In September 2017 SBI Virtual Currencies registered with the Financial Services Agency of Japan – CEO Yoshitaka Kitao said that the company’s intention was to create a “dominant cryptocurrency exchange platform”. The exchange was finally launched in beta mode on the 30th of January 2018.
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It was originally going to offer only XRP/JPY trading, but in May the company announced its intention to also offer Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum. Bitcoin Cash trading was added on the 8th of June, and Bitcoin one week later. The exchange finally went live in June under the name VCTRADE, following months of delay caused by the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrency from Japanese exchange Coincheck.
It was initially opened only for people who had pre-registered in October 2017. Starting today, the exchange is open to Japanese residents between the ages of 20 and 70. The website states that corporate customers are currently not accepted.
VCTRADE is part of a cryptocurrency ecosystem that SBI intends to build. For example, company representatives have indicated in the past that it wants to begin a cryptocurrency mining operation because the market is monopolised by Chinese companies. This is an accurate assessment of the situation – one single Chinese company, Bitmain, is responsible for almost half of all mined bitcoins.
However, these plans have not yet come to fruition on any scale. In July 2018 Kitao said at a conference that Bitcoin Cash is more viable than Bitcoin, which is too expensive, and the company began mining Bitcoin Cash in February 2018 via a subsidiary called SBI Crypto. According to Trustnodes, however, its hashrate was nothing to write home about