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The world's largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume is launching in the U.S.
BitFlyer, based in Tokyo, announced Tuesday it became the fourth digital currency exchange to receive a "BitLicense" to operate in New York. The exchange said it also has licenses to operate in 40 other states.
Coinbase, Circle and Ripple are the three other exchanges with a "BitLicense," which is granted by New York's Department of Financial Services.
Bitcoin trading volume in Japanese yen regularly accounts for 60 percent or more of global trading volume in the digital currency, according to CryptoCompare. BitFlyer has nearly 80 percent of that bitcoin-yen trading volume, the site shows. In contrast to some governments' more heavy-handed approach, the Japanese government has recognized bitcoin as a legal form of payment and licensed several exchanges.
The digital currency has multiplied more than 10 times in price this year to a record high of $9,929.61 on Tuesday, according to CoinDesk.
"Bitcoin in 2018 transitions from something that is viewed as a social phenomenon and very quickly transitions into an established institutional phenomenon," Bartek Ringwelski, bitFlyer's U.S. COO, told CNBC in a phone interview. "As regulation increases in the space people are going to feel more and more comfortable about bitcoin."
Trading platform screenshot
BitFlyer plans to offer zero percent trading fees in the U.S. through the end of this year. The exchange plans to add support for litecoin, ethereum, ethereum classic and other digital currencies in early 2018.
The exchange has raised $36 million in venture capital. Its investors include Digital Currency Group, Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, according to Crunchbase.
The leading U.S. platform for buying and selling bitcoin, Coinbase, has raised $217.2 million in total, according to Crunchbase. San Francisco-based Coinbase's investors include Section 32 — the venture capital fund founded by Google Ventures founder Bill Maris — USAA, Blockchain Capital, the New York Stock Exchange, Union Square Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Andreessen Horowitz, Y Combinator, and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, according to Crunchbase.