The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. graduate, which made bitFlyer Inc. into Japan’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, is scooping up bankers and traders from both his old employer and former competitors as he sets off an ambitious international expansion. Kano’s team, that consists of a former fixed-income desk head at Barclays Plc and an ex-senior private banker at Credit Suisse Group AG, has doubled to more than 150 people in the past six months and is on pace to top 300 before year-end.
Kano has been among the most belligerent in taking advantage of recent Japanese regulations that make the finance-to-crypto breakthrough less complicated. The nation’s cryptocurrency exchanges are now certified by Japan’s securities watchdog, giving the venues an official stamp of permission that’s largely absent from countries like the US and UK. For Kano, that makes Japan the perfect base for a growing global operation.
Yuzo Kano gave an interview from his office in Midtown Tower, the tony Tokyo skyscraper that’s also home to Blackstone Group and Bain & Co. He claimed:
My target is to be number one in the world. To get there, I need to grow headcount. And those with the best skills come from global banks.
Co-Founder and CEO, bitFlyer
Kano underlined that former traders and bankers are ideal for crypto firms because they understand how to operate in regulated markets - a skill set that’s becoming more critical as governments around the world monitor an industry notorious for security fails and money laundering risks. Last month, bitFlyer powered its anti-money laundering rules after the Nikkei newspaper declared that clients could fulfil some limited functions without fully completing customer verification.
Kano revealed that bitFlyer’s ideal finance recruits enter into one of two groups: experienced bankers in their 40s who are tired of corporate bureaucracy, or younger specialists at the age of 20 who’ve turned disappointed in the industry and are eager for a taste of startup life. Kano can’t guarantee to excel the banks on salaries, but he said there are lots of people at bitFlyer who earn more than $200,000 a year.
Bitcoin is still up more than 1,800 percent within a two-year period and the flow of ICOs shows little sign of stopping despite growing regulatory pressure.