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World’s Fifth Largest Bank Confirms Launch of MUFG Coin for 2019

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by Teuta Franjkovic · 4 min read
World’s Fifth Largest Bank Confirms Launch of MUFG Coin for 2019
Photo: GORIMON / Flickr

After months of speculation about its proposed release date, Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. has finally announced plans to launch its long-awaited in-house digital currency.

MUFJ President, Mike Kanetsugu revealed that the company plans to deliver the Coin before the end of 2019.

According to Kanetsugu, MUFJ will lean on businesses including retail outlets and restaurants to adopt Coin, with the intention of achieving wider adoption, resulting in “connected economic blocs.” He also revealed that Coin will enable the various participating business to find out previously unavailable information about their customer bases, in order to serve them better.

Kanetsugu said:

“If businesses in different sectors use the currency, Mitsubishi UFJ will be able to connect economic blocs, including customer bases of such firms.”

With competition for cashless payments intensifying, as seen in moves to issue new digital currencies, Kanetsugu voiced confidence in differentiating his company from others by providing a payment infrastructure that will enable many companies to participate.

He also revealed that Mitsubishi UFJ plans to introduce a smartphone app by the end of June that will centrally manage credit cards, reward point services and other functions.

Amid a harsh business environment surrounding the banking industry, mainly due to prolonged low interest rates, Mike said Mitsubishi UFJ will treat people accordingly when they take on a challenge in a new area.

He indicated that he will continue to change Mitsubishi UFJ’s corporate culture by reviewing its personnel system, including through promoting personnel exchanges among the banking, trust bank and securities arms, and the appointment of younger employees.

The Point of the MUFG Coin

The development of the MUFG Coin involves the procurement, storing and transport of physical cash and banknotes as this type of activity is becoming increasingly unsustainable in Japan as the country is notorious for its cash economy.

The MUFG Coin will be fundamentally different from the JPM Coin, as it will be focused on how Japanese consumers interact with money. Kanetsugu has expressed his full confidence in the ability of this digital currency for the coming years.

We already wrote of how this digital coin is designed to function as a currency, to enjoy the benefits of MUFG Coin users need to download an app which is designed to convert users’ bank deposits into the stablecoin automatically.

According to the provided data, nearly 1,500 bank employees have taken part in trialing MUFG Coin since its introduction. Last year, it was said that in 2019 MUFG was planning to engage 100,000 account holders in the testing of its digital asset.

Though it is still unclear how long this testing period will last and when exactly its practical implementation will take place, it has been reported that the bank will not only enable its users to use the currency to make payments at places like restaurants, convenience stores, and other shops, but also to make peer-to-peer transfers.

Pegged 1:1 to the Japanese yen, MUFG Coin is a blockchain-based stablecoin that has been designed with a particular focus on currency functionality.

In February 2019, MUFG, in collaboration with Akamai Technologies, announced the establishment of a joint venture, Global Open Network, Inc., which will aim to provide a blockchain-based open payment network in Japan by the first half of 2020.

Last year, the companies announced a new blockchain service, with the objective of realizing “the world’s most scalable and fastest payment processing platform with a capacity to process a million transactions per second and the ability to finalize transactions in less than 2 seconds.”

Another Japanese banking giant Mizuho is also planning to launch its digital currency platform, called “J-Coin,” in cooperation with nearly 60 other financial institutions.

Line, a Tokyo-based subsidiary of the South Korean internet search giant Naver Corporation, last year launched its first digital token, LINK, and its first blockchain network, LINK Chain.

Although it said the J-coin will be launched in March this year, it has not done so. If it does not launch it within the next two quarters, MUFG will beat it to being the first.

Innovative payment processors in Japan are also using or have plans to use cryptocurrency and blockchain. Rakuten has also announced it will be launching its own crypto exchange. Line, a famous chat app, has already its in-house cryptocurrency.

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