Cryptocurrency Market Looks to Japan for Guidance as Bitcoin, Ethereum Trade Sideways

Cryptocurrency prices have struggled to generate momentum this week, a sign that sweeping regulatory changes in Asia are once again dampening investor appetite. Despite rebounding from last month’s flash crash, cryptocurrency assets are back to trading sideways.

Asian Market Landscape

It’s no secret that the East Asia region has emerged as the epicenter of cryptocurrency trading. China played a major role in the years-long bull market for bitcoin, and the emergence of South Korea offered reassurance that the high-tech Asia region was embracing the alternative asset class. However, both countries have since put the clampdown on digital currency trading, with China taking more extreme measures.

South Korea recently implemented a ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs), with regulators vowing to monitor the market more closely. Previously, South Korea was thought to be among the most laissez-faire with respect to digital currency. Instead, the ultra-bureaucratic Japan is taking the more level-headed approach.

Japan Takes Center Stage

Japan has emerged as the beacon of light in the Far East. Bitcoin is a fully regulated payment system in the world’s third-largest economy. Since the Payment Services Act legalized digital currency in the country, regulators there have approved nearly a dozen exchanges.

These companies will officially become the first digital currency brokers to operate legally in Japan. The full list of recently approved exchanges is below:

  1. Money Partners
  2. Quoine
  3. Bitflyer
  4. Bit Bank Ltd
  5. SBI Virtual Currencies
  6. GMO Coin Co
  7. Bittrade
  8. BTCbox
  9. BitPoint Japan
  10. FISCO
  11. Zaif

Japan has plenty to offer cryptocurrency traders. If it can win the fight against deflation, the country can mobilize plenty of economic power behind cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency Market: The Pause Before the Storm

At the time of writing, the value of all cryptocurrencies in circulation is $143.8 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. The market set a new record in early September, reaching $179 billion. That was followed by a precipitous decline that culminated Sept. 15, when the total market cap briefly fell below $100 billion.

Recent price trends in bitcoin and Ethereum suggest that a slow ascent is taking place. In the case of bitcoin, growing institutional support from the likes of Goldman Sachs and BlackRock is helping investors see through the mundane of the current trading environment. The world’s No. 1 digital currency is currently trading near $4,188, according to Bitstamp.

Ethereum continues to struggle below $300, a key psychological milestone. The ETH/USD is currently rangebound around $293.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi