Japan, blockchain
Japan's so-called megabanks have shelved a joint, peer-to-peer blockchain project involving money transfers over smartphones. | Source: Shutterstock

Japan Megabanks Kill Joint Blockchain Money Transfer Project, Turn to Their Own Cryptocurrencies

Three of Japan’s biggest banks have canceled a joint project of a blockchain-based peer-to-peer money transfer service.

The three so-called Japanese ‘megabanks’, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group, said the joint venture was a duplication of their individual efforts. They thus saw no need to continue, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Per the Japanese publication, the joint initiative would have allowed their customers to send and receive funds using email addresses or mobile phone numbers via virtual accounts linked to their bank accounts.

Japanese Megabanks Partner With Fujitsu

As previously reported by CCN the project was announced in 2017 in partnership with tech firm Fujitsu. The Japanese tech giant was responsible for the development of the blockchain solutions.

Besides a cloud-based blockchain platform Fujitsu was also developing a smartphone application for the peer-to-peer money transfers. The goal then was to have the two solutions linked to the bank accounts at each of the three banks.

Tests of the initiative were conducted in 2017 and there were plans for more comprehensive trials last year.

Mizuho and MUFG Both Developing ‘Stablecoins’ to Cut Transaction Costs

Some of the initiatives the financial institutions are undertaking and which would have competed with the joint venture include the development of digital currencies. Both Mizuho Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group are developing their own digital currencies respectively named J-Coin and MUFG Coin.

In the case of Mizuho Financial Group, the first test of its digital currency was conducted in late 2016. The financial institution has been undertaking the initiative in partnership with IBM Japan. Mizuho’s goal with the J-Coin is to reduce money transfer costs. The J-Coin is basically a stablecoin with its value pegged to that of the Japanese Yen on a 1-to-1 basis.

Mitsubishi’s MUFG coin had been announced earlier in 2016 and just like with the J-Coin the purpose was to cut transaction costs. And similarly to the J-Coin the MUFG Coin is also basically a stablecoin pegged to the yen.

Japanese Banking Giants Also Members of R3 Consortium

At the time, the president of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Nobuyuki Hirano, indicated that MUFG Coin would seek to alleviate the problems bedeviling cryptocurrencies such as volatility.

[Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group plans to] overcome issues of [existing] virtual currencies and create a highly useful currency.

Other than working on their own digital currencies the Japanese financial institutions have also joined other global blockchain initiatives. Mizuho Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group are some of the banks that have joined the R3 consortium.