(Bloomberg) -- Coinbase Global Inc. teamed up with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. to start a cryptocurrency exchange in Japan, which allows account holders at the nation’s biggest bank to buy and sell virtual currencies.
The largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange got regulatory approval earlier this year in Japan, where 31 companies are registered to trade the assets, and faces local competition from companies such as Coincheck Inc. that’s owned by Monex Group Inc. and GMO Coin Inc.
“We aim to reach out to a wide range of customers by offering low-hurdle services,” Nao Kitazawa, head of Coinbase Japan, said in a briefing Thursday. The company started by allowing trading in five digital coins: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Stellar.
Coinbase said MUFG Bank is a payment partner in Japan and the bank’s account holders can easily buy crypto on the exchange. MUFG is an investor in Coinbase Global. Account holders at other banks can’t do transactions with Coinbase, Kitazawa said.
In an interview, Kitazawa, a former Morgan Stanley banker, said Coinbase Japan has staff of about 30 people currently and is looking to hire more for product development.
While Coinbase started by targeting retail customers in Japan, Kitazawa said he is optimistic about the prospect for institutional business, given the global trend of a growing number of asset management companies, pensions and endowments allocating money to crypto.
An increasing number of institutional investors want to talk with us, he said. “Their questions have been getting more specific recently,” adding that the company may hire staff to cater to institutional investors in Japan if it sees demand.
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