The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), Japan’s largest banking corporation and one of the biggest financial groups in the world is reportedly open to enabling secure access to its data from its online banking systems from third-party applications.
The move is a means to encourage development of financial technology solutions, primarily through smartphone apps, by allowing developers to gain secure access to data and core banking processes including payments and remittance, according to a report by Nikkei.
Access to MUFG tools would enable simpler payment processes and new, alternative features entirely. For instance, artificial intelligence-based robo-advisers could help investors better manage their portfolios through automated investment advice from data analytics. Using the same application, investors can then buy their chosen financial instruments by transferring money within the same platform, all in one application.
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Companies looking to gain access to the bank’s data through MUFG’s application programming interfaces (APIs) will need to pass an initial review. Providing access to the bank’s APIs among developers could spark a significant development drive.
Notably, external developers will be able to gain access to the bank’s corporate banking systems by summer this year before tapping into consumer banking systems by the end of the year.
Pushing the Agenda
MUFG is notable for its involvement in a number of Fintech-related endeavors, including bitcoin and its own digital currency.
In July 2016, MUFG invested in prominent San Francisco-based bitcoin exchange Coinbase toward the latter’s expansion effort in Japan and Asia. MUFG was also the first of Japan’s three ‘megabanks’ to invest in Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange, bitFlyer. Tokyo-based bitFlyer has since helped the three banks in regional remittance over a blockchain developed by the bitcoin exchange. The 9-month trial that concluded in September 2016 revealed that blockchain-based money transfers were not only faster and cheaper, but could also handle more transactions at peak volumes compared to traditional wire systems.
Aside from investing in bitcoin companies directly, MUFG is attempting to become the first global bank to launch its own digital currency, later this year.
First revealed in early 2016, ‘MUFG Coin’ was said to rely on a P2P platform that uses a smartphone application to authenticate digital tokens issued by the bank to its customers. AS CCN reported in mid-2016, one unit of an MUFG coin is the equivalent to a single yen. The digital currency will reportedly facilitate currency conversions to foreign currencies and exchange with Japan’s fiat yen. Moreover, the bank is also developing a two-way ATM where everyday customers will be able to withdraw currency onto their smartphones or change MUFG coins into yen at the physical terminal.
MUFG finally confirmed that it was indeed conducting experiments of its own digital currency based on blockchain technology toward a reported launch in autumn this year.
The bank is also trialing digitized checks on a blockchain in Singapore, making use of the country’s Fintech sandbox overseen by Singapore’s central bank.
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