Taro Aso Bitcoin

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Japan’s top financial official has offered his stance on bitcoin in a year where the cryptocurrency was ruled a legal method of payment in the country.

In remarks today, Japanese finance minister Taro Aso claimed bitcoin is yet to be proven as a credible currency in society before admitting that he would watch its progress in the future, Reuters reports.

Speaking to Reuters after a cabinet meeting today, Aso, a former prime minister, said:

There’s no fixed definition on whether it’s a currency or not. This issue is a difficult one…It has not yet been proven to be credible enough to become a currency, so I need to watch [bitcoin] for a little while more.

While the comments are notable, Japan is among the earliest countries in the world to recognize and acknowledge bitcoin as a legal method of payment, following legislation that kicked in earlier this year. The validation was enough for multiple trials in retail locations, including an airline, to accept bitcoin in Japan. Following bitcoin’s legal recognition, one local city government in Japan began accepting bitcoin donations to preserve a historic natural park

Despite its stature as a technology-forward society, Japan is lagging – significantly – in digital payments adoption to the likes of China and Korea. An expensive onboarding process for card payment terminals in a traditional cash-heavy infrastructure means Japan is at a relatively measly adoption rate of 19% of its society using digital payments, compared to China and Korea that see over 50% of their societies embracing cashless payment methods. As a result, the Japanese government has embarked on a FinTech growth strategy that aims to double the adoption rate of digital payments over the next decade.

Japanese retail investors have also been credited as a significant driving factor behind this year’s striking bitcoin price gains. “We think that [Japanese] retail investors are shifting from leveraged foreign-exchange trading to leveraged cryptocurrency trading,” Deutsche bank analysts wrote in a note to clients recently.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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