Kei Oda, the head of Japan and the Asia-Pacific region for Quantstamp, a Web3 security firm, recently shared his journey into the world of cryptocurrency and his thoughts on the Japanese crypto ecosystem. Before joining the crypto industry, Kei worked as a bond trader for 16 years, during which he occasionally heard about Bitcoin. However, he didn’t fully understand or believe in it at the time.
In 2016, after leaving his job, Kei decided to explore the startup space. As someone accustomed to having a short-term focus due to his experience as a trader, he easily became bored. To pass the time, Kei started trading Bitcoin, and as he began to research more about it, he realized the value proposition was compelling. This led him down the rabbit hole to explore other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.
When asked about the current Japanese crypto ecosystem, Kei described it as vibrant and progressive. Despite facing challenges such as the Mt. Gox and CoinCheck hacks, Japan has embraced Bitcoin as a payment method, albeit not as an official government currency. Kei also mentioned that security tokens are gaining attention in Japan, with a significant number of companies exploring them.
However, Kei believes that taxation has held back the Japanese crypto scene. The previous regulations imposed high taxes on token sales, discouraging startups from issuing tokens in Japan. Additionally, profits from crypto trading are taxed as extraordinary income, with rates as high as 55%. Comparatively, other countries like Singapore and Hong Kong have more favorable tax rates for crypto-related activities.
Kei believes that Japan’s efforts to be progressive in the Web3 space may attract more companies to set up in Japan. The government’s plans for digital nomad visas, along with the country’s large market size, make it an appealing destination for startups. Kei also highlighted the need for improved networking opportunities in the Japanese crypto community, which is why he helped create an event called Tokyo Blockchain Night, where like-minded individuals can gather, network, and discuss crypto without the pressure of sales pitches.
Regarding the impact of collapses like FTX on the Japanese market, Kei explained that FTX had a Japanese subsidiary called Liquid, which operated under stricter asset custody regulations. As a result, the Japanese entity remained solvent, and customers were able to recover their funds. This showcases the importance of robust regulations in safeguarding assets and the potential for increased Japanese activity in the crypto space.
Overall, Kei’s insights provide a glimpse into the personal journey of a former bond trader turned crypto enthusiast, shedding light on the current state of the Japanese crypto ecosystem and the challenges it faces, particularly in terms of taxation. However, with progressive measures being taken by the Japanese government and increasing interest from major companies, the future looks promising for the country’s crypto scene.