Japan Explores Bitcoin ETF but Demand for Product is Mysterious

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Japan’s financial watchdog could embrace exchange-traded funds that track the value of Bitcoin and similar digital asset classes, Bloomberg reported.

The Financial Services Agency (FSA), according to an anonymous source, has been exploring Bitcoin ETFs on the sidelines of its disapproval of the Bitcoin futures and Ethereum derivatives. The agency has clarified that it will not make modifications to Japan’s existing securities laws to cater for crypto assets. The decision came as a blow to the Bitcoin industry, which was looking to draw significant funds from the institutional markets after undergoing a very depressive year recently.

The FSA’s stance has been handled to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. It should allow the political group to table a bill during the current Diet session. By 2020, Japan could be looking at a stricter Bitcoin law, according to which self-regulation could draw more regulatory oversights, ICO sector could come under the securities law, and crypto brokers could lose their leverages.

Bitcoin ETF a Flipside

Bitcoin ETF could be an alternative to keep the interest of potential investors alive in the crypto space. In the Western markets, the possible launch of crypto ETFs has forecasted bullish outcomes for the underlying assets. VanEck, whose Bitcoin ETF is now in the last stretch of approval from the US securities watchdog, expects a minimum of $1 billion inbound investment from retail and institutional space.

Japan, with a total of 31 ETFs available across equity and currency assets, gathers management of a $335 billion market. The country’s payment service act has ensured that bitcoin is neither currency nor equity. Instead, the FSA defines the digital currency as a “property value.” The Bloomberg report indicates that the regulator could be looking at amending the payment service act, intensifying the rumor that Japan could end up introducing Bitcoin as one of the main assets of its ETF offerings.

Japanese Retail Prefers Mutual Funds

An FSA-approved Bitcoin ETF could expose itself to the Japanese retail investment space. But whether investors would find the new asset attractive is doubtful. Like regulators, investors would prefer assets that are free from the risk of manipulation. These safeguards, unfortunately, do not exist in the Bitcoin market. It is the same reason why the Securities and Exchange Commission consecutively rejected nine Bitcoin ETF proposals because it found the underlying asset Bitcoin too volatile.

VanEck, in response, created a bitcoin price index backed by US-regulated exchanges, to meet the demand of both investors and regulators.

Japanese retail investors, meanwhile, have not publicly expressed their desires to invest in a crypto ETF. They already have alternatives in traditional markets’ stock and bond funds. But they prefer mutual funds above everything else, leaving Bitcoin with a long competitive market to win.

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