Tokyo — Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) said on Friday that it has approved 11 companies as operators of crypto-currency exchanges, in a move that sets the country apart from its neighbours which are tightening their grip on virtual money. The Japanese government recognised bitcoin as legal tender in April and required crypto-currency exchange operators to register with it. The move was aimed at avoiding a repeat of the failure in 2014 of Tokyo-based Mt Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange at the time. The financial watchdog has laid out various requirements, such as building a strong computer system, segregation of customer accounts, and checking the identity of customers — a key issue given concerns that crypto-currency could be used for money-laundering. Trading in bitcoin and other crypto-currencies among Japanese investors has gained momentum this year, helped by the legal recognition as well as spectacular surges in the price of bitcoins and ethers. Industry offic...

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