Japan-based Fukui Bank has joined the blockchain consortium for domestic and foreign exchange services launched by Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings and its subsidiary, SBI Ripple Asia. With its latest addition, the consortium now sees 43 participating members.
Announced by SBI Holdings last week, Fukui Bank joins the working group, named “Consortium for Considering Blockchain Technology to Centrally Provide Domestic and Foreign Exchange Services” that aims to develop a blockchain-based remittance infrastructure. The consortium was first announced in August this year, with 15 member banks participating during its inauguration in October 2016.
The new consortium will address rapid advances in information and communications technology (ICT) that is increasingly seeing a trend of near real-time settlement platforms. Bitcoin is a notable example and it comes as no surprise that Japan’s traditional banking industry is working toward leverage the cryptocurrency’s underlying technology to redesign its core payments and remittance infrastructure.
SBI Ripple Asia will take the mantle as the consortium’s secretariat. Launched in early 2016 following a collaboration between SBI Holdings and prominent Fintech firm Ripple, the company is developing blockchain enterprise solutions for cross-border bank payments in ASEAN countries, including the likes of China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea.
The consortium’s latest announcement adds that discussions are currently underway toward the technical and operational objectives for blockchain-based foreign exchange in Japan. A proof-of-concept experiment is expected to be held in March 2017 before commercial use among participating banks.
SBI Holdings is among several Japanese banking heavyweights to invest in the bitcoin- and blockchain-industry. Through its venture capital arm SBI Investment, the financial institution is an investor in major bitcoin exchange Kraken, with a “multi-million dollar agreement”. Another notable investment is that of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BMTU), Japan’s biggest bank, which invested in San Francisco-based bitcoin exchange Coinbase toward the latter’s expansion effort in Japan and Asia.
Meanwhile, the remittance-centric consortium is currently accepting new applicants for participation in the working group, with further applicants expected to join in the future.
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