Asia's crypto games and web3 investment powerhouse Animoca Brands is making inroads into Japan as its local unit picks up $45 million in financing at a $500 million pre-money valuation.
The investment, which was shelled out equally by the parent firm Animoca Brands and MUFG Bank, the largest bank in Japan with 360 years of history, comes at a time when the country is tightening regulations around the crypto industry.
Japan isn't the most crypto-friendly country. Currently, it imposes a 30% corporate tax on profit from cryptocurrency holdings, including unrealized gains, a policy that has triggered a blockchain brain drain and pleas by local crypto startups to lower tax rates.
But with its troves of successful anime, manga, video games, movies and musicians, Japan is still a place to be for NFT services scouring for IPs.
Indeed, Animoca Brands Japan, whose parent has backed the world's largest NFT platform OpenSea, plans to use the fresh capital to "secure licenses for popular intellectual properties, develop internal capabilities and promote adoption of Web3 to multiple partners, increasing the value and utility of their branded content while fostering the development of a safe and secure NFT ecosystem in Japan," the company said.
MUFG, which was formed from a merger between Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Bank, isn't the only financial group in Japan to have embraced NFTs. Banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp said in July that it plans to create a "Token Business Lab" that will provide consulting to institutional customers interested in NFT applications, with technical support coming from blockchain startup HashPort.
Japan's domestic tech companies have been warming to NFTs as well. In April, Line launched its NFT marketplace in Japan, a plan that was announced last year. It's an expected development given the Japanese messaging giant already has reaped millions of dollars from sticker sales and popularized a handful of sticker collections. Line's 90 million users in Japan can now store their NFTs in their Line-powered digital asset wallet and trade NFTs with friends.