BitFlyer, the Tokyo-based operator of one of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges, is expanding into Europe after receiving regulatory approval, as the infrastructure that supports cryptocurrency trading continues to grow off the back of the recent boom. The exchange — which has an 80 per cent share of bitcoin trading in Japan and 20-30 per cent of the global market — is launching its European service on Tuesday after gaining a payment institution licence from Luxembourg’s financial regulator.

The platform, which allows users to store bitcoin and place complex trades, said it was responding to increased demand for cryptocurrency trading among professional and institutional investors. That audience is currently “underserved” in Europe, the company said.

More than 400 exchanges have sprung up across the globe in recent years to cater for crypto capital markets, many of which are unregulated. BitFlyer’s expansion comes as larger exchanges seek to legitimise a marketplace where investors, to date, have been afforded few protections despite the risk of extreme price volatility, hacks and service outages.

BitFlyer was now the “most compliant virtual currency exchange in the world”, chief executive Yuzo Kano, a former Goldman Sachs trader said. “Approved regulatory status is fundamental to the long-term future of bitcoin and the virtual currency industry,” he added.

The price of a bitcoin tripled in value in the last two months of 2017, hitting an all-time high of nearly $20,000 and fuelling concerns among regulators of a bubble. Price rises were buoyed by the introduction of bitcoin futures trading in December on two traditional Chicago exchanges, the CME Group and Cboe Global Markets. Read more from…

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