Japan, long considered one of the most crypto-friendly countries in the world, is introducing new initial coin offering regulations to ensure greater investor protection. Photo: AFP / Toru Yamanaka

One of Japan’s top exchanges, bitFlyer, is on a hiring spree and boss Yuzo Kano is tapping into Wall Street’s financial experts to help expand his exchange.

According to the crypto-exchange tracker CoinHills, bitFlyer is Japan’s top exchange by volume and the fifth largest globally. With over two million users on the platform, the number of employees has doubled to more than 150 people over the past six months and is set to top 300 before the end of the year.

It is among 16 exchanges that already have approval from Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), with over 100 more currently in the queue.

This regulatory framework is largely absent in the US, which is why Japan is currently the country of choice for the crypto industry.

Bloomberg is reporting that Kano, a former Goldman Sachs equity derivatives trader, is returning to his former working world to seek new hires.

“My target is to be number one in the world,” the bitFlyer CEO told Bloomberg. “To get there, I need to grow headcount. And those with the best skills come from global banks.”

Kano believes that in order to facilitate his expansion plans he needs recruits that are either experienced bankers in their 40s who are tired of corporate bureaucracy or younger associates in their 20s. He said former Wall Street traders and bankers were ideal for the crypto trade because they know how to operate in regulated markets.

The crypto growth in stronger in Tokyo than the rest of the world partly because of Japan’s negative interest rates, Bloomberg says, but bitFlyer already has successful operations outside of Japan, in San Francisco, and Luxembourg and Yuzo is now looking further afield towards Africa, Australia, South America and other parts of Asia.

He also has ambitions to expand beyond crypto trading into “businesses that include digital payments and a brokerage-advisory service for investors and startups interested in initial coin offerings”, according to Bloomberg.

He said that coders with just a high- or middle-school education who can show aptitude could easily earn $100,000 a year and “there are plenty of people at Bitflyer who earn more than $200,000 a year.”

Kano also offers a stock option incentive to all full-time bitFlyer employees who can cash them in at any time. “At what other startup can the secretary become a millionaire?” he said.

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