Historically Japan has without fail imitated all technological trends originating from the West- and made them even better. They made automobile manufacturing more efficient. They made video games more fun. And blockchain technology is no exception. There is currently a lot of innovation occurring in this sector in the heart of Tokyo, particularly with regards to commerce and supply chain support.
From household appliances to motor vehicles, Japan has taken inspiration from and improved on all types of Western technologies.
A multitude of companies are planning ICOs and several have already been successful.
Almost everyone in Japan knows Bitcoin, and it is accepted as payment at major electronics shops including all Bic Camera physical stores. In Japanese households the housewife manages the family investments, so Bitcoin trading and investment is popular with these women, who are collectively dubbed “Mrs Watanabe”
The Japanese government is very supportive of Bitcoin. The government even granted it legal tender status. All residents have permission to trade bitcoin for fiat currency, so there is no need for Tether or any other stablecoins. Bitcoin futures are also offered to retail investors, and short-selling is just as popular as betting on the price increasing.
Leveraged Bitcoin derivatives such as “Contract for Difference” (CfD) are also popular. With CfDs, retail investors don’t need to buy Bitcoin, they just make a contract to pay or receive money from another trader based on the change in the Bitcoin market price, with up to 15x leverage. For example, Alice can make a contract with Bob promising to pay 1 million yen if the price of Bitcoin goes up by one hundred thousand yen, and in return Bob promises to pay 1 million yen to Alice if the price of Bitcoin goes down by one hundred thousand yen.
ICOs currently exist under an unclear legal framework in Japan. Investment offerings are regulated in Japan by the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Specific rulings have been rare, but it is assumed that ICO crowdfunding would be considered a securities issuance just like an IPO. Because of this, Japanese blockchain companies seeking crowd finance tend to register their company and bank account in another country such as Singapore and link all their activities there, even though they mostly work out of offices in Tokyo.
The first major Japanese-born cryptocurrency was Monacoin, formed as a fork of Litecoin. It can be purchased directly at some ATMs in Japan, and is available on all major cryptocurrency exchanges, such as BitFlyer. The coin is accepted on several websites such as https://bitcoinmall.jp/ and even at some brick-and-mortar stores like ARK in Akihabara. It was in the top 20 cryptocurrencies in the world in late 2017, but a lack of support from developers caused a sharp decline after that. The price currently sits at around 4% of its all-time-high.
In central Tokyo several ERC-20 token issuances are brewing, mostly in the commerce and supply chain support industry:
Cosplay Token(COS) financially supports young Japanese people who like to dress up as anime characters but are not old enough to accept credit card payments, while also recording the unique intellectual property they create on an unfalsifiable blockchain.
Oasis Digital Assets supports Japanese start-up companies to issue digital assets for crowdfunding, and the Arium 2.0 project supports online sellers in every country to conduct e-commerce with any other country. This addresses several serious issues in the Japanese web-shopping market:Although e-commerce is thriving in the domestic Japanese market, most Japanese websites do no support selling their products to other countries, for 4 main reasons:
1) International shipping is difficult to track, and customs/tax problems can occur. Japanese people don’t trust buyers in other countries.
2) Lack of commercial partnerships between Japanese sellers and international shipping companies. It means shipping costs are too expensive.
3) Japanese web-shop owners and their staff members do not speak other languages. If they sell to other countries they use Google Translate, which often contains critical errors.
4) Even when the translation is correct, Japanese sellers do not understand the culture of other countries, so they can not customize their advertising language to appeal to each target market.
These 4 reasons mean it is not convenient for Japanese companies to sell overseas, and so most of them limit sales to domestic customers.
Takashi Narita, CEO of the Arium 2.0 e-commerce blockchain project says:
«A worldwide tracking and quality-assurance system needs to be implemented across all countries, and a network of translation and promotion affiliates is needed in each country to customize the advertising phraseology to suit each target market.»
Narita also says that his project will use the capital raised by his crowdsale to fund a high-level marketing push to forge partnerships with the leading logistics company in each country, resulting in more cost-effective shipping and a worldwide track-and-trace system managed by smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
Japan has embraced the blockchain revolution with both arms, and it is this international commerce and supply chain support industry in particular where Japan is currently driving innovation. Yet again Japan has adopted a Western idea and proceeded to improve it, while adding a dash of Japanese flavor.