Bitcoin Now Legal for Payments in Japan

April 7, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

It would be easy to think that bitcoin is on the way out, especially given all the reversals it’s had lately. Repeated hits at the ETF level, its value whipsawing back and forth…it almost seemed like one more good hit might relegate bitcoin to the level of gold or oil, an investment property for the most part.

Then, the government of Japan did something almost no one saw coming: it declared bitcoin to be a legal payment method in the country.

It was a groundbreaking move by any stretch, and with that shocking jolt of new credibility comes some new rules for bitcoin in the country. New capital requirements are in place, as are some new rules for operations and security surrounding these tools.

Further, bitcoin exchanges operating in the country will also come under new rules, including training for employees on certain points as well as routine audits.

The bitcoin market, meanwhile, took the news with a glee commonly reserved for New Year’s Eve parties, throwing a huge rise in the price of a bitcoin, now around $1,143 per bitcoin as of this writing. That’s up substantially from just Sunday night, and may well be the start of another new run up.

An obvious question follows: what does this mean for bitcoin ETFs in the United States? Given that Japan is now taking the bitcoin every bit as seriously as the yen, dollar, pound or any other currency—and it’s not alone, as Switzerland has also been seen on good terms with bitcoin—it could provide the necessary bit of respectability to let an ETF go through.

After all, the biggest concerns the United States had with bitcoin was that the currency wasn’t sufficiently secure or transparent. If Japanese regulators are conducting annual inspections and audits, then that sort of shoots that problem right in the foot.

Naturally, the affairs of other countries only have so much impact on those of this country. Given what’s going on here, though, we may be looking at a whole new era for bitcoin about to fire up in earnest. Only time will tell, of course, but this shot of credibility may be exactly what bitcoin needs to go mainstream.