The owner of Japan’s first digital bank and largest online brokerage has purchased digital asset trading firm B2C2 in a move anticipated to heat up the cryptocurrency race in Asia.
SBI Holdings has purchased the UK-based cryptocurrency dealer in a bid to become the entry point for institutional investors interested in adding digital assets to their portfolio. B2C2 CEO Phillip Gillespie cited that big financial players eyeing crypto investments have been hounded by limited options, Nikkei Asia reports.
“If an institution wants to buy crypto, there’s a bit of a problem. There are not that many places they can go right now,” Gillespie said.
Japan’s rising interest in digital assets
The acquisition comes as the price of Bitcoin (BTC) hit a new all-time high. The flagship cryptocurrency has already surged past $23,000 extending its 2020 bullish run that prompted increased demand from institutional investors.
Japan’s regional neighbors have started accommodating the rising interest in digital assets. Just this month, Singapore-based DBS Bank, Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, launched a cryptocurrency exchange platform backed by a traditional bank. Hong Kong’s OSL Digital Securities also received the city’s first crypto trading license.
SBI’s FX and rates division executive director Ryo Suzuki said that Japan’s cryptocurrency market is not yet mature, but the deal may catapult Tokyo into becoming Asia’s foremost financial hub since the SBI Group has the customer base as Japan’s biggest internet financial group.
The deal notably passed regulatory approval in less than six months suggesting that Japanese regulators acknowledge the potential of the crypto market.
“This is about Japan’s future,” said Gillespie. “In order to attract business back to Japan, you either lower tax rates or embrace a new asset class.”
The final price of the deal is not disclosed, but SBI now has a 90% stake in B2C2. It first acquired a $30 million minority stake in the London-headquartered firm in July.
With SBI and B2C2’S partnership, Gillespie also said that almost all of the competitors of SBI now have to trade with it to get liquidity in crypto.