The Bank of Japan will soon be joined by a consortium of 30 companies in the research and development of a digital currency, as the nation looks to become less reliant upon cash.
While the consortium responsible for this ongoing research totals 30, there are a few clear headliners within the group. Namely, these would be the three largest banks within Japan.
- Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.
- Mizuho Financial Group Inc.
- Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc.
In addition to the aforementioned banks, the remaining of the 30 companies comprising the consortium include those from a variety of sectors – brokerages, retailers, and more.
The research being completed is not limited to simply that of a digital currency, but rather a framework for supporting such an asset. The goal of which is to facilitate interoperability, should any future entities like to create or deploy their own variant.
Hiromi Yamaoka, Chairman of the consortium, states,
“Japan has many digital platforms, none of which are big enough to beat cash payments…We don’t want to create another silo-type platform. What we want to do is to create a framework that can make various platforms mutually compatible,”
Interestingly, despite being a technologically forward country, Japan boasts some of the lowest adoption of digital payments in the world, according to Reuters. Why is this?
Various companies and governments have been asked over the past year why they are developing digital currencies, and a common answer is the ‘preparation for the coming generations raised in a digital world’.
Japan boasts one of the world’s oldest demographics, with over a quarter of the population over the age of 65. With this being the case, it is no wonder that the adoption of digital payments is so low. As is the nature of life, though, this population will soon begin to dwindle leaving the younger and more technologically accepting generations to rise up. It is this future that the consortium and like-minded companies are looking to cater to, and future-proof their services.
Japan is not the only country to see private banks attempting the development of a digital currency. United States based, J.P. Morgan recently announced the official launch of its own offering, dubbed ‘JPM Coin’.
This coin, which was first announced in 2019, acts as a form of stablecoin, which is now being used to facilitate cross-border payments. Usage offers benefits such as fast settlement times, 24/7 access, and various other perks.
While the development of a digital currency by Japan’s big banks may represent a future shift in the way we spend money, it should not be confused with a CBDC. For a digital currency to be deemed a ‘central bank digital currency’, it needs to be released by just that – a central bank.
For those looking forward to the eventual bevy of CBDCs under development to be released, don’t get overly excited for Japan’s own variant. In a recent interview with Reuters, Hiromi Yamaoika – who not only chairs the consortium discussed here today but is an ex-executive with the Bank of Japan – indicated that it will most likely be years before a Japanese CBDC is released.