TOKYO -- Japan needs an adequate oversight mechanism for virtual currencies, including ways to confirm identities and block money laundering, Financial Services Agency panel members agreed in a meeting Monday.
The Financial Systems Council invited operators of virtual currency exchanges to share their knowledge and regulatory ideas.
There are about 10 million bitcoin users across the globe, including tens of thousands in Japan, according to the operators. Some 20 billion yen ($161 million) in bitcoins, each valued at about $400, are reportedly traded daily. While roughly 7,000 locations worldwide are said to accept bitcoins, just 600 or so are in Japan -- mostly restaurants.
The meeting also touched on the need for registering exchanges and protecting customer assets. Participants also noted Japan's position of imposing consumption taxes on trading of bitcoins.
The FSA plans to introduce a regulatory mechanism as early as next year in response to the oversight vacuum exposed by the arrest of MtGox chief Mark Karpeles, who ran what was once the world's largest bitcoin exchange.