Blockchain Startups and Companies in Japan to Watch in 2021 and Beyond
Japan’s blockchain industry is thriving.
The size of Japan’s domestic blockchain utilization service market (based on business sales) is expected to reach 123.5 billion yen in FY2022, according to a survey by Yano Research Institute.
So, which blockchain startups and companies should you start paying attention to?
Up next, we’re introducing the blockchain companies and startups in Japan that are making domestic and international headlines.
Founder: Yuzo Kano
bitFlyer is the biggest crypto exchange in Japan and one of the largest Bitcoin brokers globally. Users can buy/sell cryptocurrency with each other or directly with bitFlyer. Initially focused on Bitcoin, the company later added futures contracts, Bitcoin derivatives, and other crypto currencies to the exchange.
In the news: Japanese Crypto Exchange BitFlyer Launches Blockchain Consulting Service (Finance Magnates)
Inspired by blockchain technology, bitkey has developed an autonomous decentralized system, providing smart lock solutions for homes and work spaces through bitkey infrastructure for ID linking, authentication, and rights processing.
In the news: ビットキー、既築ビルでも「丸ごとDX」--顔認証で解錠、会議室予約も (Yahoo! News)
With headquarters in Tokyo, this startup helps companies create and scale blockchain applications. Their middleware platform, MultiBaas, connects users’ application to the blockchain through a REST API and web-based control panel.
In the news: 電子契約サービス「SignTime（サインタイム）」にブロックチェーン技術を活用 (PR Times)
Founder: Hironobu Ueno
The leading startup specializing in developing blockchain games, such as MMORPG “My Crypto Heroes,” which achieved the #1 spot for Ethereum transactions, along with many other game developments. The company also provides NFT solutions for enterprises. (Acquired by Dream Link Entertainment in 2018.)
In the news: gumi and double jump.tokyo Partner to Launch NFT Art Collaboration “The Brave Dotz” (Medium)
Exia Digital Asset provides c0ban-related services. c0ban is a Japanese crypto currency created in 2016. The c0ban Exchange was founded to create an exchange platform for the crypto and it is the only crypto asset exchange and sales outlet in Japan that allows trading of c0ban and yen.
In the news: ブロックチェーンへの投資額は過去最高−注目の国内企業15社 (Reuters)
Established: January 2021
Supporting expansion of existing Web 3.0 products in and from Japan and committed to DAO community participation, co-development, planning and design. Fracton also provides educational and research activities for Web 3.0 and supports Web 3.0 product and business development.
In the news: NFTやDeFiなどで注目──新しいインターネットの世界「Web 3.0」とは一体何か？ (Diamond Signal)
Founder: Yoshinori Fukushima
Established: August 2018
LayerX’s mission is to digitalize all economic activity with blockchain technologies. They engage in joint research with universities, along with trials with governments for socially practical applications of blockchain technologies, such as developing a blockchain-based voting system for the city of Kaga.
In the news: LayerX will develop blockchain-based voting system using digital ID verification in Japan (Coin Telegraph)
Links utilizes blockchain to allow users to safely manage their virtual currency using only their cell phone number and a six-digit PIN code. Their platform makes the sending and receiving of crypto currencies free of charge within their platform. Recently, in partnership with CoinPost, they developed the BitComment plugin, which allows commenters to get rewarded with bitcoin.
In the news: 【コメントすれば必ずビットコインが手に入る】 ビットコメントVer.2.0実装 (PR Times)
Founders: Masa Keith Nakatsu, Toshi Senoo, Yasuhiro Kobayashi
Orb helps businesses by delivering frictionless commerce on their distributed ledger platform. Orb DLT’s SmartCoin can be used by businesses, organizations, and local governments to define and configure their own local virtual economies.
In the news: SBI Group wants to develop a Cashless society (Gain Bitcoin)
A startup creating blockchain-based solutions for corporations, universities, and governments. Developed the world's first live central bank-issued blockchain payments app, Bakong, for the National Bank of Cambodia. Other projects include Hyperledger Iroha, SORA, and Fearless Wallet.
In the news: Cambodia’s Digital Currency Signals Future of Finance (Nippon.com)
Founder: Sota Watanabe
Founded by one of the directors of Japan Blockchain Association, Sota Watanabe’s Singapore-based startup provides Web 3.0-as-a-Service, including R&D and consulting for Web 3.0. Plasm Network, their flagship product, is a decentralized application platform that solves the scalability issue of Web 3.0 products.
In the news: 「日本から世界で勝負する」国産ブロックチェーンPlasm NetworkがBinanceらから2.5億円調達 (TechCrunch.com)
Founder: Taihei Shii
Startbahn has developed Startrail, blockchain infrastructure to replace the traditional certificate management system for verifying provenance and credibility of artwork. This artwork management system provides an environment where provenance, rights, and distribution can be managed transparently through the Startrail Registry Record.
In the news: Startbahn Raises $10M for Mission to Protect Artists' Rights With NFTs (CoinDesk)
Founder: Chris Dai
Enabled by blockchain technology, UniCask makes tracking, collecting, and purchasing collectible spirits safe and secure. Additionally, cases of collectible whiskies can be traded between users, and users can create their own whisky collection through playing UniCask’s NFT games.
In the news: Client Case Study: Spirits ownership tracking for UniCask (Medium)
Special mention: Japan Blockchain Association (JBA)
While not a startup nor company, the Japan Blockchain Association is worth mentioning here. Officers include Yuzo Kano (bitFlyer founder), Hironobu Ueno (Doublejump.Tokyo founder), Yoshinori Fukushima (LayerX founder), Sota Watanabe (Stake Technologies founder), among others. JBA is focused on the development of sound business practices, virtual currency guidelines, and user protections in relation to blockchain technology.
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