Coinbase stops Japan operations after slump in digital assets

Coinbase Global Inc. is halting operations in Japan, less than a month after another major digital asset exchange Kraken announced its withdrawal from the country.  

Customers will have until Feb. 16 to withdraw their fiat and crypto holdings, Coinbase said in a blog post Wednesday. Any remaining crypto held at Coinbase on or after Feb. 17 will be converted to yen, and the company will send any remaining cash to a guaranty account at the Legal Affairs Bureau in the month after that date, it said. 

“Due to market conditions, our company has made the difficult decision to halt operations in Japan,” according to the post. Coinbase plans to conduct a “complete review of our business in the country,” it said. 

The business closure follows the firm’s decision to cut 20% of its workforce globally, the latest layoffs at the San Francisco-headquartered firm as it grapples with a slump in crypto assets. Coinbase is retreating from Japan even as the nation loosens some crypto rules, which has enticed rival Binance — the largest digital-asset exchange — to recently buy a local player to re-enter the country.

“We’ve decided to wind down the majority of our operations in Japan, which led to eliminating most of the roles in our Japan entity,” Nana Murugesan, vice president for business development and international, said in an interview last week. Coinbase previously teamed up with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. to launch a crypto exchange in Japan in 2021.

Coinbase pledged to make the transition in Japan “as smooth as possible,” the blog post said. The company has segregated the yen and crypto assets of its customers in custody in compliance with Japan’s regulation, and is committed to ensuring that all its clients can withdraw their assets “at their earliest convenience,” it said.  –BLOOMBERG