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Japanese firms expand their Web3 and crypto offerings

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(Kitco News) -  Laser Digital, the crypto unit of Nomura – Japan’s largest brokerage and investment bank – is looking to launch a dedicated crypto trading platform in Q1 of 2023 and expand its crypto team to 55 members over the next three months. 

The crypto arm of the investment bank was first announced in May and was officially established in September. 

According to Nomura, Laser Digital is intended to “provide institutional clients and investors with products and services linked to cryptocurrencies, stable coins, decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other tokens.”

The unit specializes in catering to institutional clients, family offices, high-net-worth individuals and hedge funds actively involved in the crypto space.

Laser Digital reportedly operates somewhat independently of Nomura and is focused on deploying its own capital to establish cryptoasset management and venture capital investment engines.

As part of its efforts to expand, the crypto unit is looking to increase the headcount at its Swiss headquarters alongside its other initial centers in Dubai and London. Eventually, the company will explore establishing offices in Japan and the U.S. 

The move to increase its staff comes as many of the top crypto firms, including Coinbase,, Dapper Labs, Galaxy Digital, and OpenSea have all reduced staff over the course of 2022 in an effort to decrease costs in the face of a potentially extended crypto winter. 

Japanese mobile operator establishes a Web3 consortium

In other developments out of Japan, NTT Docomo – the country’s largest mobile operator – has announced a partnership with the multichain smart contract platform Astar Network to accelerate the Web3 implementation in the country. 

The firm intends to form a consortium with Astar that will allow individuals and corporations the opportunity to utilize tokens for governance. 

According to the agreement, Astar Network and NTT Docomo will focus on three main areas of collaboration: researching case studies for environmental issues in Web3; the elimination of technology gaps in an effort to increase Web3 adoption through education; and providing opportunities for engineers and business leader to learn and gain practical experience. 

Astar Network CEO Sota Watanabe indicated that the goal of the collaboration is to help make Web3 more accessible to the general public. “In this context, more robust cases with excellent user experience on an infrastructure that is accessible to everyone is essential. It is about making a society where more people can truly enjoy the benefits of Web3, not just engineers,” Watanabe said. 

Japan to test CBDC settlement solutions and expand its Web3 capabilities

In a separate announcement from NTT Docomo, the mobile operator revealed a partnership with Accenture intended to accelerate the adoption and application of Web3 for addressing social issues.

The collaboration will reportedly focus on three main areas: Developing case studies focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, providing web3 training courses and developing a "secure technology platform" for web3.

“Docomo, in collaboration with Accenture, will revolutionize social infrastructure by utilizing blockchain and building a safe and secure Web3 environment,” Docomo CEO Motoyuki Ii said in a statement. “We will build an environment where the power of creators and developers can come together.”

According to a report from Nikkei Asia, NTT Docomo expects to invest between ¥500-600 billion over a five-to-six-year period to develop Web3-related infrastructure and services, centered on blockchain technology.

The firm plans to launch Web3 services after it develops a blockchain wallet and the infrastructure needed to support cryptocurrency issuance and exchange.

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