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Japanese bitcoin exchange Coincheck is launching a new investment fund aimed at supporting startups developing virtual currency services and blockchain-based solutions.

Tokyo-based Coincheck, one of the Japan’s leading bitcoin and altcoin trading platforms, will directly start investing in new startups with the launch of the ‘Coincheck Investment Program’, a new startup investment fund.

The bitcoin company is targeting investments in startups and individuals developing blockchain solutions and digital currency services. Pointedly, investment targets also include corporations planning to implement and launch initial coin offerings (ICOs), a radical new model of fundraising that has gained prominence with the growth and rise of cryptocurrencies.

Investments per case are set to a maximum cap of 50 million yen, approximately $460,000.

“We provide development, technology and legal known-how on [digital] currencies,” an announcement by Coincheck explained. “We will support the early launch of the project and will promote expansion of blockchain [tech] and the virtual currency market…”.

Coincheck cites significant costs and required expertise in technology, finance and law as ‘barriers’ blocking the path for new blockchain and virtual currency businesses to enter the market, thus offering its expertise and financial backing for new startups. Equity investment, financing and business acquisition are all listed as features under the investment program.

Earlier this year, Coincheck launched Japan’s first-ever interest paying bitcoin accounts, offering users returns as much as 5% of their bitcoin holdings in interest. In May, the exchange expanded its interest-paying service to support a number of other cryptocurrencies including Ethereum, Ripple and Monero.

The launch of the new investment fund by the cryptocurrency exchange is yet another example of the onward momentum for bitcoin and blockchain developments in Japan. After deeming digital currencies as a legal method of payment earlier in April, Japan ended an 8% consumption tax rate on buying bitcoin in July. All of which sees retailers making a marked push toward accepting bitcoin payments following successful trials. A senior executive at bitFlyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange, estimates that up to 300,000 Japanese retail storefronts could be accepting bitcoin by the end of 2017.

Featured image from Shutterstock.