The R3 innovation group has announced a partnership with Japan’s largest financial group to explore the blockchain technology.

The Tokyo—based financial conglomerate, SBI Holdings, has signed up for the R3 blockchain project, led by the financial innovation firm R3 CEV, as part of the new round of partnerships. Under the initiative, the Internet-based organization will work on improving financial markets through the use of the distributed ledger technology.

Started in 2015, the R3 consortium has added some of the world’s major financial companies, including Morgan Stanley, Citi, Commerzbank , Bank of America, Societe Generale, National Australia Bank, ING Bank, Wells Fargo, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, and Royal Bank of Canada. By the end of February, the project had attracted 42 financial organizations. Some members of the consortium have already started experimenting with the use of the technology behind bitcoin.

The R3 project was launched to develop commercial use cases of the distributed ledger within the financial industry. The initiative is aimed at stimulating the widespread adoption of the blockchain and developing secure protocols and standards for the use of the technology in financial services.

Since its establishment in 1999, SBI Holdings has become the biggest financial group in Japan. With offices in 20 countries around the world, the group intends to become the leading financial company in Asia. It offers a broad range of services, including banking, insurance and securities.

SBI Holdings plans to investigate the blockchain applications in an effort to enhance financial services. All businesses and companies in the SBI Group are committed to embrace new technologies to improve customer service and provide unique services in various business sectors.

In January, SBI Holdings partnered with Ripple, the provider of financial settlement solutions, to form SBI Ripple Asia that will sell Ripple’s solutions for international payments at banks in countries across the Asian region.

Although more banks are joining the R3 consortium, the project is still facing criticism from some industry members. According to the CEO of, Patrick Byrne, the new project is likely to slow down innovation within the bitcoin industry. The new consortium, he said, is just a means used by the Wall Street bankers to stifle innovation.

However, despite the negative views on the project, the R3 consortium is steadily growing. A few months ago, the Russia-based bank Sberbank unveiled its interest in the project. The government of Russia is known for its negative stance on bitcoin, as it was previously planning to ban the use of cryptocurrency in the country. According to the bank’s chairman, the bank is closely watching the development of the technology underpinning bitcoin.

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