Circle signs SBI Holdings to boost USDC adoption in Japan

abdelaziz Fathi

Circle, the company behind the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, has announced a collaboration with SBI Holdings, a leading Tokyo-based financial conglomerate, to deepen the adoption of USDC and Web3 services in Japan.

This strategic alliance was formalized through a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which sets the stage for USDC to be circulated in Japan and for the promotion of Circle’s suite of Web3 services within the country.

SBI VC Trade, a crypto subsidiary of SBI Holdings, is tasked with obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals to facilitate the circulation of USDC. This partnership aligns with Japan’s recent update to its Payment Services Act, which is designed to foster the use of stablecoins in the country.

The initiative includes SBI Shinsei Bank, which will offer banking services to Circle, contributing to the accessibility and liquidity of USDC for businesses and individuals in Japan. Furthermore, SBI Group is set to integrate Circle’s Web3 solutions, such as programmable wallets, blockchain infrastructure, and smart contract management tools, as part of its digital asset strategy.

Circle’s CEO, Jeremy Allaire, said that the reflects a mutual recognition of the potential for digital currency to shape the future economy. Allaire also highlighted that while Circle is US-based, the bulk of USDC transactions occurs internationally, with Asia being a particularly active market.

Japan’s biggest online brokerage has been providing its global clients with cryptocurrency trading services since 2018. However, it took nearly five years to establish “Japan’s first cryptocurrency fund for general investors,” largely because of the county’s tightening restrictions over cryptocurrency investing.

Tokyo’s Financial Service Agency (FSA) rejected the SBI’s original plan to launch a Greyscale-like cryptocurrency investment trust.

Aiming to expand its cryptocurrency portfolio, SBI Holdings Inc made a strategic investment in Singapore’s first licensed crypto exchange Coinhako.

Before that, the Japanese conglomerate bought local exchange Tao Tao. Also in 2020, SBI’s UK arm had fully acquired cryptocurrency market maker and liquidity provider, B2C2, which was the latest example of how mainstream giants and crypto startups are tying up.

Moreover, other subsidiaries at SBI groups are active in other blockchain projects. Apart from its Japanese security token offering (STO), for example, SBI additionally invested in San Francisco-based STO startup, Securitize, and enterprise blockchain firm, R3. Also, SBI maintains investments in Ripple and the MoneyTap blockchain payments app.

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