Virtual currency encourages creativityI started my career at Yamaichi Securities, one of the four largest securities houses in Japan at the time. The firm was famous for its institutional sales, supporting direct listings and public offerings of new companies.
In 1995, Japan was just entering the Internet age. Seizing the opportunity, I started my own company and quickly launched businesses to offer online credit card payments, online advertising, and data mining services. I also developed charting software and provided stock analysis services to many large brokerages.
I’ve worked in the world of finance and IT for many years and I’ve built a lot of businesses, but I’ve never encountered anything as exciting as the world of “virtual currency.” What initially drew me to virtual currencies was how they offered a whole new host of investing opportunities to the world while at the same time, avoiding some of the limitations fiat currencies have such as multi-day waits when transferring funds and high service charges to move and exchange money internationally.
However, when I discovered the advancements made in blockchain technology in Estonia, I really started to get inspired. Estonians now file their taxes online and can complete the filing in only minutes, making tax accountants redundant. Estonian elections are held online, with all voting secured by cryptography, making voter identification redundant. Blockchain technology is being integrated into all aspects of social life, and advanced IT courses are even taught right from elementary. Estonia has laid the regulatory groundwork for virtual currencies, and this has allowed creativity to flourish. I believe Estonia has created an environment geared toward making a better community for everyone.
Inspired by Estonia’s success, PLUSQO pursued licensing for a virtual currency exchange in Estonia. Being based in Japan, there were many significant hurdles to overcome before obtaining our licenses, however I think it was more than worth the effort.
Discovering new sources of capital for the development of new industries.The role of the “PLUSQO Virtual Currency Exchange” is to be a platform to nurture creativity by leveraging the potential of virtual currency. We believe developing this platform will allow us to fulfill our goal of supporting Japanese startups and fostering new industries while at the same time, ‘doing the right thing’.
Japan is a country full of great business ideas, just waiting for the right environment. There are so many talented people here with amazing ideas, however venture capital in Japan is hard to come by. Japan can offer only a small fraction of the capital entrepreneurs have access to in Silicon Valley or Shenzhen. At the moment, Japan is not the friendliest place for entrepreneurs to get started.
We think PLUSQO can open up access for Japanese entrepreneurs to a whole new world of foreign capital by leveraging the power of virtual currency. We are already promoting new token economies in the areas of traditional Japanese crafts, medicine and health related foods. However, we don’t plan to only provide access to capital. PLUSQO intends to partner with and support these new economies over the long haul by tapping into the wisdom and expertise of leading business and financial experts who support our platform. Ultimately, I would like to develop the PLUSQO platform into something resembling Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator program.
Japan has struggled economically for a long time now. If we don’t re-invent ourselves, I really fear for the generations that follow us. My hope is that virtual currencies will ultimately help struggling local governments to balance budgets. By cultivating the next generation of Japanese entrepreneurs, perhaps a new wave of economic growth can be established outside of the big business and tourist centers of Japan.
We want to build vibrant token communities.Its critical to develop a healthy and supportive community. Unfortunately, various problems have been caused by the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) market in Japan. The Japanese yen has been considered a rock-solid currency for years. Japanese citizens have no fear of hyper-inflation. Therefore, Japanese investors have tended to view virtual currency less as an investment and more as a speculative vehicle. This has had the unintended consequence of creating a kind of ‘casino mentality’, which has in turn, attracted ICOs more interested in making a quick buck than developing quality projects.
The pattern is usually the same; tokens go to the moon on the first day of trading, but quickly fall back to earth after investors start losing interest. The high rate of ICO failures has forced Japan to rethink virtual currency regulations and this has had a chilling effect on the ICO market. Investors have lost money, lost interest and many have left the virtual currency space. Unfortunately, I think we are likely still in an ICO winter.
I want to do my part to thaw the ICO market by creating a place where people can gather with peace of mind. I would like to create a place where people who understand the true potential of virtual currency can meet and contribute to the dreams of entrepreneurs who intend to see their projects through, no matter what. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned above, I’m much more interested in building a platform that can achieve a kind of ambitious harmony, than I am to see rocketing token prices.
PLUSQO is still in its infancy. However, I believe that by demonstrating a track record for compliance, coupled with meaningful token issues, sooner or later we will achieve positive recognition – and that’s when a supportive community will form.
I don’t know what the future of virtual currency in Japan will bring in the future, however we will continue to do our best to create a space where everyone can get involved and feel welcomed.
PLUSQO OÜ CEO Takaya Fujikawa