Circle, the entity behind the popular stablecoin USD Coin (USDC), is entering a strategic partnership with SBI Holdings, a Tokyo-based financial services firm.
The collaboration aims to catalyze the adoption of USDC and Web3 services across Japan.
Formalizing their intent, Circle and SBI Holdings inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on November 27 to facilitate the expansion of USDC in Japan.
This move aligns with Japan’s recent regulatory developments within the Payment Services Act, which Circle believes will encourage stablecoin issuance and contribute to Japan’s evolution toward a Web3-driven economy.
SBI Holdings is seeking registration as an electronic payment instruments service to introduce USDC into Japan, a process subject to approval by local authorities. Yoshitaka Kitao, CEO and President of SBI Holdings, sees this as a pivotal step toward widespread adoption of stablecoins in Japan, expressing enthusiasm about the comprehensive business alliance with Circle.
Jeremey Allaire, CEO of Circle, views this partnership as a significant milestone in shaping Japan and Asia’s digital currency future. He highlighted the shared vision and Circle’s commitment to promoting its Web3 Services suite, envisioning applications spanning gaming, culture, and consumer entertainment.
Nevertheless, the collaboration extends beyond the financial realm; SBI Shinsei Bank, a subsidiary of SBI, will offer banking services to Circle. This strategic move aims to facilitate USDC access and liquidity for businesses and users based in Japan.
While Circle is headquartered in the United States, a substantial portion, about 70%, of USDC adoption is occurring overseas, particularly in Asia.
Allaire previously emphasized the strong demand for secure digital dollar solutions in regions like Latin America and Africa.
As of current data by CoinGecko, USDC stands as the second-largest stablecoin by market capitalization, trailing behind Tether (USDT) with a market cap of $24.6 billion.
Inside Jeremey Allaire’s Mastermind
Allaire has shared his thoughts on his X account, emphasizing the significance of this development and offering valuable perspectives to remember. Here are his thoughts:
Why is this such a big deal?
In June of this year, the Japanese government took a pivotal step toward bolstering its Web3 industry by enacting new stablecoin laws, applying regulations to both domestic and foreign-issued stablecoins. This move positioned Japan as the first major government worldwide to establish such regulatory clarity.
Any stablecoin failing to meet Japan Financial Services Agency’s (JFSA) stringent standards won’t be permitted to circulate within Japanese markets.
These changes significantly expanded the scope for stablecoins and Web3 in the world’s fourth-largest economy, presenting a significant opportunity for Circle and USDC.
To seize this opportunity, Circle is thrilled to collaborate with SBI Holdings’ Chairman, Mr. Kitao, an exceptional business figure, innovator, and leader in Asia and globally.
SBI Holdings operates a vast financial conglomerate in Japan, including major entities like the largest online retail brokerage, substantial digital banks, a retail FX platform, and a trust bank.
Importantly, Kitao isn’t new to the crypto and blockchain sphere. He has been deeply involved for almost a decade, with SBI Holdings already running digital asset trading, brokerage, and cross-border payment solutions.
The shared vision revolves around shaping the new internet-based financial system and its potential impact on commerce, trade, and innovation.
What does the partnership entail?
The primary focus is introducing USDC into the Japanese market in compliance with the new JFSA stablecoin laws.
Upon launch, USDC could become a prominent stablecoin in Japan’s digital asset markets and be widely utilized within the burgeoning on-chain economy across various consumer-driven Web3 product categories. Additionally, Circle aims to work with the extensive retail and crypto platforms operated by the SBI Group to adopt USDC as a new digital dollar.
The dollar holds a pivotal role in cross-border payments, FX, and trading in Japan, and this extends into the adoption of digital dollars on blockchain networks.
Part of this initiative involves establishing direct banking from Japan to Circle’s USDC treasury and settlement operations, facilitating direct and local liquidity between JPY and USDC via Japan’s domestic banking system, building on similar recent launches in Singapore, with more markets to follow suit soon.
Web3 Apps in Japan
There’s been rapid growth in major consumer-centric companies in Japan aiming to launch Web3 apps using digital tokens, smart contracts, and self-custody digital wallets. To support this, Circle will collaborate with SBI to foster the growth and adoption of Circle’s comprehensive Web3 Services suite. This suite offers an end-to-end platform for developing and operating Web3 apps across chains, covering sectors like gaming, culture, and consumer entertainment.
Regulatory Clarity’s Significance
According to Allaire, this collaboration underscores the outcomes of major governments establishing clear regulations for stablecoins. It showcases collaboration among reputable entities across traditional and new financial systems, advancing innovation with robust safeguards and supervision.
He said, “As similar initiatives unfold globally, expect to witness numerous major partnerships between established Web2 companies and financial institutions, venturing into building and operating within the internet-based financial system”.
On another note, in a recent interview with Miriam Kiwan, Vice President of Circle MENA, she explained that Circle’s vision as a financial technology player is to increase global economic prosperity through the frictionless exchange of value.
“We are looking to improve the adoption of USDC across the region and enable individuals and businesses to participate in the digital economy while fostering financial inclusion,” Kiwan stated.
Kiwan also pointed out the significance of the UAE, where 89% of residents are expats, making it an essential market for remittances. She believes that USDC is well-positioned to facilitate cross-border business transactions and individual remittances, leveraging the power of blockchain technology.