Tokyo FinTech
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Tokyo FinTech

FSA issues suspension order to crypto exchange Exia

Japan has 33 regulated cryptocurrency exchanges. With Exia Digital Assets this week joining FTX Japan (the former Liquid/Quoine exchange) under suspension orders by the Financial Services Agency, Japan’s regulator, 31 remain operational. Based on industry sources, several are up for sale, as they are teetering on the verge of bankruptcy given the “crypto winter” of declining asset balances, diminished trading volumes, and continued high operating cost for full regulatory compliance.

Exia was unable to fulfill its payment obligations at the end of November, was not able to articulate a credible cash flow plan for the coming month, and is in dire need of a cash infusion, of which there is no sight. The crypto trading system is outsourced, and given that the vendor cannot be paid, the trading system may not operate safely and stably, and the investor protection through the segregation of assets might be at risk. To add insult to injury, Sumitomo Fudosan has terminated the office lease at Roppongi Grand Tower at the end of November, putting the company into a forced remote working setup as alternative premises could not be secured, while some critical business documents and passbooks apparently remain inaccessible at their former offices.

The FSA has therefore determined that the company will not be able to operate the crypto asset exchange business properly and reliably as prescribed by the law, and issued a business suspension order for the month of December. Under this order, Exia must:

  • Accurately identify users and assets entrusted by users.
  • Protect assets entrusted to Exia by users, and must not engage in acts that unfairly consume company assets.
  • Take all possible measures to protect users while considering fairness among users.
  • Appropriately disseminate information to users regarding the protection of users’ assets, and give consideration to appropriate responses to users.
  • Explain to users in sufficient detail the content of this administrative disposition.

Exia is obliged to submit a business improvement plan by Tuesday, December 6, 2022, and — as is customary in these cases — submit a monthly progress and implementation status writing by the 10th of the following month until the plan has been fully executed.

In addition, the FSA has insisted on a daily reporting requirement that covers the following:

  • Amount required for separate management (kind and quantity of money and crypto assets)
  • Money trust balance
  • Cold wallet balance (type and amount of crypto assets)

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Norbert Gehrke

Passionate about strategy & innovation across Asia. At home in Japan. Connector of people & ideas.