Coinbase is retreating from Japan amid massive layoffs, plummeting trading volumes

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase confirmed that it will halt all operations in Japan in the next few weeks due to challenging market conditions.

Bitcoin stack with Japan flag in the background - stock photo

In a Wednesday blog post, Coinbase announced a “difficult decision” to stop its business activities in Japan, less than a month after rival exchange Kraken said that it, too, would cease all operations in the country.

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“Due to market conditions, our company has made the difficult decision to halt operations in Japan and to conduct a complete review of our business in the country,” the statement read. “However, we are committed to making this transition as smooth as possible for our valued customers.”

All Coinbase Japan customers are advised to withdraw their fiat and crypto holdings before February 16. Any remaining assets held on the exchange after February 17 will be converted to Yen and sent to a Guaranty Account at Japan’s Legal Affairs Bureau, from where customers would have to retrieve their funds themselves.

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“We want to assure you that we have segregated the Japanese Yen and crypto assets of our customers in custody in compliance with the regulations, and we are committed to ensuring that all our customers can withdraw their assets at their earliest convenience. Fiat deposit functionality will be removed on January 20th, 2023 JST,” Coinbase said.

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The exchange obtained a license to operate in Japan in June 2021 from the country's Financial Services Agency, although the company’s initial intent to enter Japan dates back to 2016.

Wednesday’s announcement comes less than a week after Coinbase said that it will wind down most of its operations in Japan, except for a small crew committed to the security of users’ funds on the exchange. The company also started another massive round of layoffs that is expected to cut about 950 jobs, just half a year after ousting 1,100 employees in a wake of an anonymous petition decrying execs’ attitude and “unsustainable” hiring practices.