MUFG Bank, the banking unit of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, has plans to trial a cryptocurrency called MUFG Coin with over 100,000 of its account holders by 2019.
The bank and its partner in this endeavor, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies, have high hopes for the new platform. According to their joint press release:
"[We plan] to realize 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."
The project, slated for a release in "fiscal year 2019," is intentioned to be an evolving one, "compatible with IoT and other new technologies."
Per local media, account holders at MUFG wishing to take part will have to apply, with selected participants being issued a smartphone app that will convert deposits into the new cryptocurrency, which apparently will have a value set equivalent to one yen.
The pilot initiative is expected to be launched in limited areas of Japan, allowing users to make payments at "restaurants, convenience stores, and other shops." MUFG Coins will also reportedly be able to be sent between accounts of trial participants.
Officials from MUFG Bank will conduct an analysis to verify settlements are resolved "smoothly and in a secure way."
Although MUFG Coin has been in the works for over two years now, this latest news reconfirms the bank's cryptocurrency initiative, which could involve MUFG Coin eventually being sold over MUFG Bank's own cryptocurrency exchange.
The president of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Nobuyuki Hirano, has previously expressed his enthusiasm for MUFG creating its own cryptocurrency, which he believes could be more stable than bitcoin. According to Hirano, MUFG Bank is trying to "overcome issues [such as volatility] of virtual currencies and create a highly useful currency."
MUFG, which is a member of the R3 banking consortium's Distributed Ledger Group (DLG), has been exploring cryptocurrency alongside its broader FinTech initiatives since 2014, when it created its own innovation center.
The global banking giant's new crypto-related services – which could include a blockchain service or exchange and inhouse digital asset – is being aided in its efforts by Akamai, which runs one of the world's largest distributed computing platforms. Akamai already accounts for approximately 15 to 30 percent of all web traffic and enables nearly 3 trillion internet interactions each day.
Japan has been essential to the growth of cryptocurrency, as it was home to what was once the world's largest Bitcoin exchange, Mt. Gox, and it continues to approach crypto with a measured and judicious eye. The reaffirmation of MUFG's cryptocurrency efforts could again make Japan one of the biggest cryptocurrency innovators among world governments.
Moreover, MUFG's digital currency would be among the first to be issued by a bank of such reputation and global significance. MUFG is one of the largest banks on Earth, holding roughly $2.5 trillion in assets.