UK payments processor Wirex trains its sights on crypto-friendly Japan

London-based payment services provider Wirex is expanding its Asian presence, and its first stop is the cryptocurrency-friendly Japan.

The company, which offers cloud-based hybrid personal banking platform, recently teamed up with Japanese financial services group SBI Holdings to launch a joint venture called SBI Wirex Asia. The goal, according to the companies, is to deliver a Japanese cryptocurrency payment card and develop other co-businesses in the field of cryptocurrencies, distributed ledger technology (DLT), and payment.

The announcement follows the $3 million investment made by SBI Holdings in Wirex early this year via its FinTech Fund.

Wirex is no stranger to Japan’s cryptocurrency sector. The UK start-up, which enables over 900,000 customers in 130 countries to use cryptocurrencies on the Visa card networks around the world, already has an office in Tokyo, as well as in Kiev in Ukraine. Wirex’s service allows its customers to instantly exchange cryptocurrencies to legal tenders including U.S. dollars, euros or UK pounds, through its app.

The partnership with SBI Holdings will help Wirex advance into traditional markets, while the Japanese company will gain access to the startup’s expertise and ties in the blockchain-based finance sector.

“Japanese customers are our most enthusiastic supporters and use our Visa-backed cryptocurrency debit card more regularly than anywhere else in the world. They deserve a yen-denominated card soon and we will deliver it to them,” Pavel Matveev, CEO of Wirex, said in a statement.

Wirex is the latest company to initiate a Visa-powered cryptocurrency card.

Earlier this month, Tokyo-based exchange bitFlyer introduced a reloadable Visa-powered prepaid card, which users can fund with BTC and use at stores in Japan that accept Visa cards.

bitFlyer’s prepaid cards are free to use, doesn’t require an admission fee nor will it charge an annual fee. However, there is a JPY30,000 (USD266) limit per load, as well as a monthly load limit of JPY120,000 (USD1,067) and a lifetime load limit of JPY1 million (USD8,894).

The bitFlyer prepaid card has a five-year expiration date, and its balance cannot exceed JPY100,000 (USD889), according to the company.

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