Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the largest bank in Japan, is to invite 100,000 customers to participate in a pilot of MUFG Coin, a blockchain-based digital currency that customers will be able to use to make mobile payments in stores. The trial is expected to begin early next year.
“The participants will install an app on their smartphones that converts their deposits into the digital currency,” NHK Japan reports. “One MUFG Coin will be worth 1 yen. They will be able to use the currency to make payments at places like restaurants, convenience stores and other shops. They can also transfer the currency to the accounts of other participants.”
Payments made using the MUFG Coin are expected to carry much lower transaction costs than standard credit card transactions, Nikkei Asian Review reported last year. “Remittance costs are kept low thanks to blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin. With MUFG Coin, wiring amounts of money too small to be practical under typical bank fees becomes possible.”
By tapping into Bitcoin’s underlying technology called the blockchain, the MUFJ is just one of the latest major global banks looking to establish a tamper-resistant accounting ledger. The main difference with Bitcoin, however, is that MUFG coin will be “permissioned” or only available for use to the bank and its customers like a company Intranet.
MUFJ has announced since February 2016 that it is working to create its own virtual currency similar to Bitcoin in an effort to reduce expenses and establish a robust backend accounting and settlement system.
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