European Union flags
Image credit: European Union Flags, Thijs ter Haar, Flickr

Japanese bitcoin exchange BitFlyer has announced its launch into Europe after being granted a payment institution license to operate in the European Union (EU). BitFlyer has become the first bitcoin exchange in the world to be regulated in Japan, the US and Europe.

Yuzo_Kano_and_Pierre_Gramegna,_Luxembourg_Minister_of_Finance
BitFlyer CEO, Yuzo Kano, with Luxembourg Minister of Finance, Pierre Gramegna

The license was granted by the Luxembourg regulator, Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF). Pierre Gramegna, the Luxembourg Minister of Finance, said: “We’re delighted that one of the most successful Japanese startups chose Luxembourg as their EU platform.”

Gramegna gave the stamp of approval to cryptocurrency startup Bitstamp by signing its payment institution license back in 2016. Bitstamp became the first cryptocurrency exchange platform to ever receive a EU license.

From the BitFlyer’s base at the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology Foundation (LHoFT), the company will market its platform in the EU.

BitFlyer’s entry into Europe comes on the heels of its launch in the US last year. According to data from CoinHills, BitFlyer is the largest bitcoin exchange platform in world, making up 23% of the global trading volume. In 2017, more than US$250 billion in virtual currency was traded on its platform.

Commenting on the launch, founder and CEO of BitFlyer and ex-Goldman Sachs trader, Yuzo Kano, said:

“When I set up BitFlyer in 2014, I did so with global ambitions and the belief that approved regulatory status is fundamental to the long-term future of bitcoin and the virtual currency industry.

“I am proud that we are now the most compliant virtual currency exchange in the world; this coveted regulatory status gives our customers, our company and the virtual currency industry as a whole a very positive future outlook.”

BitFlyer Europe’s initial product offering is the BTC/EUR pair. The company plans to add support for other cryptocurrencies including Litecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Bitcoin Cash later in the year.

The news of Luxembourg granting its second payment institution license to a cryptocurrency exchange platform comes shortly after the country’s finance minister told Bloomberg:

“Virtual currencies are there to stay. They bring added services, they are convenient, they are [simpler to use] and so consumers love them.”

Gramegna also suggested that the EU could soon introduce new cryptocurrency regulations and follow suit to ensure bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do not become a mean for criminals to launder money.

“The dangers of anti-money laundering are known, there are other issues at stake,” Gramegna said. “Europe will probably handle it together because, obviously, it’s something that touches upon the single European market so it has to be done at European level.”