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On January 9, 2017, bitFlyer, Inc. celebrated the three year anniversary of our establishment. First and most importantly, we would like to deeply thank all of our users, our dedicated employees, and everyone who has been involved with our company over the past three years for making this milestone possible.
It's been three years now since first starting this company with Takafumi Komiyama, our CTO. During this time the environment surrounding Bitcoin and blockchain technology has changed drastically. Looking back on these three years, it feels as short as a single year back when comparing to prior experiences.
When we first started the company, the price of Bitcoin had fallen to recent lows of 20,000 to 30,000 yen, but now it sits crossing 100,000 yen at the time of this writing. Since there is still no established method of determining the fair market value of Bitcoin through fundamentals, the flow of news can cause the price fluctuate drastically. Also, since there is no protection against inflation built into the protocol, the balance of supply and demand is reflected entirely in the trading price. Recently this new currency has gained much attention because of world events such as the American presidential election, the devaluing yuan, and currency instability in India and Venezuela, all of which has led to a rise in the price of Bitcoin across all markets.
Also, we noticed that last year saw many more opportunities for Bitcoin in the media compared to the time of the Mt. Gox incident, particularly many instances of positive coverage. You might even say that this was the year that Bitcoin began to recover. This year, 2017, the revised Settlement Act (Virtual Currencies Act) will come into effect in Japan. bitFlyer considers 2017 to be the "first year of virtual currencies" and is planning to introduce the convenience and allure of Bitcoin to many more users through a variety of campaigns and events in the coming year.
The environment currently surrounding Bitcoin has potential for growth with both technical issues being resolved and the establishment of new legislation. The halving of mining rewards that happened in July of last year happened successfully without issue. However, the debate over block size has started to heat up again. While the conflict between miners and users seems to have calmed, Segwit has still yet to be implemented and this remains a major issue for Bitcoin. This is the Byzantine fault tolerance of Bitcoin, which was established with economic rationality built into its algorithm, but one could also say that this is a side effect of that which has now been brought to the surface. However, both miners and users have the same hopes for growth in the Bitcoin ecosystem over the medium to long term, so we truly believe this problem can and will be resolved in the end.
On the other hand, last year there significant progress made in the legal system regarding virtual currency. The "Virtual Currency Law" was established in May and a draft of Cabinet Office Ordinance and Administrative Guidelines was announced at the end of the year. Because the BitLicense regulatory framework is only applicable in New York state, this makes Japan the world's first country to establish a nationwide law on virtual currency. The issue of consumption tax will be resolved with a tax exempt status from July of this year, another bit of news that was reported all across the world. In Japan, efforts to lead the world on virtual currencies are now underway. We hope that we at bitFlyer can contribute to this effort, no matter our size.
Thanks to everyone's support, bitFlyer had our biggest year of growth since the company was founded. Our monthly Bitcoin trading volume was around one billion yen in the second half of 2015, but has grown to exceed 250 billion yen in December 2016. To date we have raised a total of nearly four billion yen and doubled our number of employees, including engineers. Information about the convenience and usability of Bitcoin has also increased greatly through media exposure. We also received a great response about our announcement of miyabi, a blockchain technology we've been thinking about since starting the company. However, there is still much work to be done to grow Bitcoin and blockchain technologies. With your support, we hope to make progress in that endeavor one step at a time.
Moving forward, I hope that we can provide our customers with even more useful and exciting services as we work to grow bitFlyer even further. I also intend to work hard to grow myself as an individual. I still believe that Bitcoin and the blockchain are technologies that establish the core of fintech and are technologies that will dramatically change the world in the years to come.
All of us here at bitFlyer intend to continue working hard to make the world a simpler, more convenient place through Bitcoin and the blockchain. Thank you always for your continued support.