Three of Japan’s largest banks are now stakeholders in Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange bitFlyer as Mizuho Banking Corporation and the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation join Mitsubishi UFJ.
The two regional banking giants invested in the bitcoin exchange and blockchain services company through their respective venture arms – Mizuho Capital and SMBC Venture Capital.
Dai-ichi Life Insurance also participated in the new round that saw bitFlyer secure ¥200m ($1.7m).
Mitsubishi UFJ Capital participated in its ¥510m ($4.5m) round in August 2015.
The firm also raised $27m in a Series C round in April 2016.
bitFlyer claims it was the world’s largest bitcoin exchange in January globally by volume with total trades surpassing $2.81bn between more than 400,000 users in the first month of the year alone.
The three major Japanese banking corporations have previously partnered with bitFlyer in 2016 to run a proof-of-concept to test domestic money transfers across its blockchain.
It’s claimed that the tests saw as many as 1,500 transactions per second at its peak -exceeding the speeds of the existing inter-bank wire system.
The banks’ increased involvement with Japan’s largest exchange follows moves by the nation’s government to regulate exchanges and recognise virtual currencies as having the same properties as fiat money as a means of payment.
Japan counted 4,200 merchants accepting bitcoin at the close of 2016 with that number expected to quintuple to 20,000 by the end of this year.
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