Japanese Exchange Liquid Becomes “Unicorn” Company After New Funding

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Fiat-to-crypto exchange Liquid has just surpassed the $1 billion USD “unicorn startup” valuation milestone on the heels of an initial Series C fundraising phase that brought in some high-profile cryptoverse investors.

The development is notable insofar as it makes Liquid only the second tech industry unicorn to actualize in Japan, where the startup is headquartered. The exchange also manages operations in Singapore and Vietnam and accordingly offers fiat currencies like the Japanese yen and Singapore dollars as base currencies for crypto trading. 


Commenting on the news, Liquid CEO Mike Kayamori suggested the new war chest of funds will be used to accelerate the exchange’s further penetration into global cryptocurrency markets:

“As we enter into a new age of digital disruption in financial services, consumers are increasingly placing a higher value on digital assets and technologies they can trust and use with greater ease. Our vision is to make financial services accessible to all, which means bringing more people into the digital asset space so that anyone can be a part of it.”

Liquid’s unicorn positioning is also significant because the startup has now joined the ranks of the select few global fintech unicorns whose operations deal with cryptocurrencies — enterprises like Coinbase, Circle, and Robinhood.

Liquid was able to achieve its $1 billion valuation via investments from established companies like crypto miner manufacturing heavyweight Bitmain and investment firm IDG Capital. IDG led the funding round and is known for having previously invested in cryptoeconomy powers like Coinbase and Ripple.

Following the Rules to Get Ahead in Japan

Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain, said Japan’s clear cryptocurrency rules and Liquid’s new funds would allow the platform to become that much more competitive with its international fintech competitors:

Japan is one of the leading nations in putting crypto industry under proper regulations, and Liquid Group has proven itself to be the exemplary player within such compliant rules. This is a very important and unique moat amid global competition.”

Indeed, since Japan has one of the most bustling and regulated crypto userbases in the entire world at present, Liquid hopes to leverage its users’ rising and increasingly orderly activity toward advancing its company operations beyond that of its international competitors.

Proponents of increased regulation in the cryptoeconomy will say Liquid’s rise is an example of how the space could use more robust regulations across the board, as tighter rules could similarly empower more strong companies in the industry to thrive while weeding out lesser and scammier plays.

And Japan has indeed kept things tight. For example, government officials there new rules last month that would enact stricter limitations on domestic platforms offering crypto margin trading services.

More Crypto Unicorns Coming, But When

Liquid’s Series C boost indicates that there’s plenty of room for growth in the cryptocurrency industry for the space’s elite players, even in the absence of uniformly bullish conditions or amid volatile markets.

With that said, the exchange most certainly won’t be the last crypto unicorn to hit the fintech scene, so the relevant questions going forward pertain to matters of who and where and when rather than if.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) just published an analytical framework for understanding how tokens likely fit into American law, and the guidance quickly led to speculation that crypto enterprises may warm up to the idea of opening operations in the U.S. now that a little more clarity has arrived from the nation’s top securities watchdog.

To that end, a larger and more accommodating American cryptocurrency scene would undoubtedly lead to further crypto unicorns down the road.


William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Bitcoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster

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