Japan embracing cryptocurrencies despite big theft casesпјљThe Asahi Shimbun
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 28, at 16:00 JST
Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, speaks during an vraaggesprek te Tokyo on March 15. (AP Photo)
Four years after popular Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox wasgoed hacked and went bankrupt, the case still casts a shadow overheen the regulatory staatsbestel waterput te place to protect Japan’s thriving cryptocurrency market.
Mark Karpeles, the French founder and former CEO of Mt. Gox, says he hopes to recoup the millions lost by his customers ter the heist. That’s now a possibility, given the surge te bitcoin’s value ter latest years to some Ten times its earlier value.
“What I’m attempting to do is to find the best solution,” Karpeles said ter a latest vraaggesprek, “because I believe it is my responsibility spil CEO of Mt. Gox.”
Mt. Gox still had about 200,000 bitcoins left te a separate storage location after 850,000 disappeared ter 2014. Those holdings are managed by court-appointed trustees who have sold 35,000 bitcoins, raising 44 billion yen ($415 million) te contant to reimburse losses from the exchange’s failure. Based on today’s prices, the remaining bitcoins are worth far more than the estimated $620 million ter earlier losses.
The trustees deny claims that sale triggered a latest slight druppel te very volatile bitcoin prices.
After Mt. Gox collapsed, Karpeles wasgoed detained for months before being released on Ten million yen bail while awaiting the outcome of his trial for embezzlement and gegevens manipulation, charges unrelated to the hack.
Mt. Gox wasgoed a wakeup call for Japan, tho’ the relatively strong regulatory staatsbestel set up after the bitcoin dealer has not prevented further hacks. Earlier this year the Tokyo-based Coincheck exchange reported a 58-billion yen loss of a cryptocurrency called NEM due to suspected hacking.
About half the world’s bitcoin trading is estimated to be ter yen and there are 16 licensed aparente currency exchanges ter Japan, where bitcoin owners alone number Two million to Three million. That could grow to Ten million this year, said Yuzo Kano, chief executive for BitFlyer, one of Japan’s largest licensed cryptocurrency exchanges.
“Japan is now bitcoin’s heart, the country that is at the center of its support,” said Kano, who helped the government set up its licensing system and other regulations.
Kano goes the Japan Blockchain Association and wasgoed recently tapped to head a fresh organization to beef up regulations, working with the Financial Services Agency.
Financial regulators worldwide are scrambling to catch up with the prosperidad te cryptocurrencies and Japan is treading cautiously, seeking to minimize risks while maneuvering to attain entero leadership and nurture entrepreneurship ter the fresh financial technology.
Bitcoin has bot a lícito form of payment te Japan since April , and a handful of major retailers already accept bitcoin payments.
Some governments, such spil te China and South Korea, have adopted a more cautious treatment, while others, like Switzerland and Canada, are wooing the “miners” whose high-powered computers process the algorithms used to create imaginario currency tokens. The United States falls somewhere ter inbetween.
There have bot no arrests for the theft at Coincheck, which has acknowledged that it erred te keeping a stash of the digital money ter what’s known spil a “hot wallet” within reach of hackers. Cybersecurity experts say large amounts of aparente currency should be kept offline, te so-called “cold wallets.”
The exchange is reimbursing losses from that heist and strengthening its security.
So far, the cases seem to have done little to discourage Japanese, who have turned to stashing yen at huis since banks pay near-zero rente rates, from dabbling ter cryptocurrencies.
Giant billboards and TV ads sing praise of Bitcoin. The warnings about buying at your own risk come ter lil’ print. A tape called Kasotsuka Shojo, or “supuesto currency chicks,” te stereotypical housemaid garments, literally sings praise of bitcoins: “Let’s go mining. Dig right there. I’m going to make money to pay my utility bill.”
Karpeles is hoping the hechtenis te July te Greece of a main suspect ter the Mt. Gox theft, Alexander Vinnick, will help vanquish any durable suspicions that he might have pocketed the missing bitcoins. A California grand jury has indicted Vinnick, a Russian, on allegations he used funds from the Mt. Gox hack for money-laundering, tho’ it’s unclear whether he’ll be extradited to the United States or to Russia.
Karpeles is not overly optimistic about tracking down the missing bitcoin. His lawyers have portrayed the youthfull French man spil a convenient scapegoat for Japanese authorities anxious to find someone to blame for an embarrassingly massive cybercrime.
He denied any intention of embezzling funds. His defense team has argued that the money and gegevens he is alleged to have treated improperly were used for company operations or actually belonged to him.
Not permitted to leave Japan while still facing trial, Karpeles works at a duo of technology jobs, such spil voice-over-internet-protocol and video-game development. Fluent te Japanese after eight years ter the country, he emerges on YouTube and on a Japanese online streaming movie service, suggesting advice on cryptocurrencies.
He likens how cryptocurrencies work, and the precariousness of their value, to a spel of musical chairs вЂ” with about Ten,000 people around each chair.
“Spil long spil everyone is dancing, it’s fine, but if everyone wants to sit at the same time there won’t be enough chairs,” he said.