Japanese online broker Monex is offering to acquire hacked cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, a domestic business daily has reported. Shareholders appeared to welcome the move toward better investor protection.
The Nikkei business daily reported Tuesday that Japanese online broker Monex wants to buy a majority stake in Tokyo-based Coincheck, saying the brokerage aimed to "install a new management team and rebuild the cryptocurrency exchange under its own supervision."
In January, Coincheck reported a $547-million (€444-million) loss of a cryptocurrency called NEM through suspected criminal hacking.
The exchange has been in operation since 2012. It had applied for a government license before the heist, but had not yet been granted one.
The news of a possible takeover by Monex caused the price of Bitcoin to jump by 5 percent, according to data from Coindesk, indicating that "investors welcomed the idea of a well-established financial services company bringing order to the cryptocurrency market." Monex shares surged by 23 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The news came after the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) ordered Coincheck to overhaul its operations with a view to safeguarding clients' assets and preventing money laundering.
The Nikkei said the deal with Monex still needed the approval from the FSA and from shareholders.
Five cryptocurrency exchanges have recently withdrawn their applications to be licensed in Japan, saying they are unable to meet the government's high requirements.
Two exchanges, Tokyo GateWay and Mr. Exchange, announced their withdrawal last month, following similar moves by Raimu, bitExpress and Bit Station.
Japan has generally been bullish on virtual money, but has set up a strict system requiring that exchanges be licensed to help protect consumers.
hg/aos (Reuters, AP)