Mizuho Bank prepares roll out of proprietary digital currency
Mizuho Bank is to launch its well-trailed proprietary digital currency in March, with the support of 60 regional domestic banks. Reports first surfaced in September of last year that a consortium of banks, led by Mizuho Financial Group and Japan Post Bank, had won support from the country’s central bank and financial regulator to launch the J Coin, an electronic currency to pay for goods and transfer money using smartphones.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, merchants who support acceptance of the coin will be charged fees significantly lower than for credit card payments in a bid to spur adoption and uptake. To make use of the currency, users will download a dedicated app on their smartphone. Payments will be made using QR codes. The value of the digital currency will be fixed at 1 yen per unit, and will not fluctuate on the market, as virtual currencies such as bitcoin do.
Mizuho is not the only Japanese bank experimenting with its own currency. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is also planning trials of its own MUFG Coin with around 100,000 account holders in Tokyo. Much like the J Coin, the proprietary currency is pegged 1:1 to the Japanese Yen, can be downloaded to smartphones and used for P2P funds transfers and for online shopping.
The flurry of activity comes as Japanese banks seek to cash in on the local population’s love affair with alternative cryptocurrencies and fight off the threat from Chinese dragons like Alibaba and Tencent.