World’s Fifth Largest Bank Joins Crypto Space with Digital Yen

Japan’s Mitsibushi UFC Financial group (MUFG), the world’s fifth-largest bank by assets, has announced it will trial its own digital currency as early as 2019, reports Cointelegraph.

The move, which dates back as far as 2016, sees the Japanese giant running out the coin, valued at one yen, to 100,000 account holders, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.  The bank suggests that its MUFG coin will be usable in a number of retail outlets, bars, and restaurants, and will also be transferable to other participant’s accounts.

MUFG will be checking to see that it’s all working as intended and that settlements are carried out smoothly and securely. It is reportedly broadening the pilot by offering the currency to a variety of businesses in order to expand the test.

Japan has seen increased interest in digital currency from some of the country’s largest cooperations, with DMM’s announcement that it was ready to trade in cryptocurrency and, most significantly, Yahoo Japan’s announced 40% stake in BitARG, planned for later this year. The deal, worth between USD 18.5 million and USD 27.8 million, allows BitARG to operate a domestic trading platform under FSA rules, making it a viable investment opportunity for Yahoo.

The Japanese Central Bank continues to be wary of cryptocurrency, with numerous warnings issued to customers regarding the perils of dabbling in digital currency, even issuing a negative Q and A for customers earlier in the year in order to test public knowledge and warn about the risks of crime.

Also Japan-based global investment bank Nomura has just announced its latest project; to establish a custody offering for digital assets.  The new project aims at removing barriers to institutional cryptocurrency investment.

Although news regarding large banks like MUFG and companies such as Yahoo walking the crypto path serves to give some extra legitimacy to the Japanese cryptocurrency market, there are still those who feel the ethos of the industry has been somewhat altered. Many crypto enthusiasts feel that the creation of Bitcoin was a positive step towards bypassing the monopoly of institution banking after the financial turmoil of 2008.

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