Ripple, the U.S. digital payments company, is working with 61 Japanese banks (covering more than 80% of all banking assets in Japan) on an application that will enable customers to settle cash transfers instantly around the clock, the latest effort to apply blockchain technology in finance.
The mobile app will allow users to send funds to other bank accounts in the country, Ripple said in a statement Wednesday. Beta testing will start next month and three of the lenders — SBI Sumishin Net Bank Ltd., Suruga Bank Ltd. and Resona Bank Ltd. — aim to roll out the service to customers later this year.
“MoneyTap allows the bank consortium customers to make instant domestic payments and only requires a bank account, phone number, or QR code. What’s more, MoneyTap helps shed the costs associated with existing banking and ATM fees that are currently applied to domestic money transfers in Japan, making those payments not just faster, but cost less overall.”, Ripple says.
Ripple is already working with banks in other countries to overhaul how they handle payments. Blockchain, the digital ledger technology being used for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, has been touted as a potential way to track transactions in a range of industries. In Japan, banks and authorities are keen to embrace financial technology to improve efficiency as high costs and low interest rates put pressure on profitability.
The MoneyTap app will create “faster, safer and more efficient” payments, Takashi Okita, CEO of a joint venture between Ripple and Sumishin’s parent company SBI Holdings Inc. that is working with the Japanese bank consortium, said in the statement. Under Japan’s current system, cash transfers are typically only processed by banks on weekdays until around 3 p.m.
Japan recently changed the law to require banks to work with registered third parties that seek to connect to their customers’ accounts using application programming interface technology. The app will use these so-called open API connections to transfer money between bank accounts, Emi Yoshikawa, director of joint venture partnerships at Ripple, said in a telephone interview to Bloomberg.
Other banks in the consortium will introduce the app to their customers over the next three to four years, Yoshikawa said. While the software is focused on domestic transfers, the group will seek to expand it to cross-border payments and interbank settlements in the future, she added.
„Removing friction from both domestic and international payments is central to Ripple’s mission of establishing an Internet of Value, where money can move like information — instantly.”, the company says.
„Though Libra has met with fierce resistance from central banks and supervisory authorities and might never see the light of day, in many other cases tech firms (both start-ups and established big players) have successfully captured bits and pieces of universal banks’ traditional value chain. This trend may only intensify in the coming years. In this environment, European banks remain squeezed.”