Japanese banks flock to blockchain consortium

Japanese banks flock to blockchain consortium

A Japanese bank consortium planning to build a new real-time payments platform using technology from blockchain joint venture SBI Ripple Asia, has expanded to 42 banking members.

Launched with the support of 15 inaugural members in August, SBI Ripple Asia initially anticipated increasing the size of the consortium to 30 banks.

"Because of active responses from many financial institutions, the Consortium was finally launched with 42 member banks," says SBI in a statement. "Member financial institutions are expected to increase further after the launch, as applications for participation will be accepted continuously."

SBI Ripple Asia says the the consortium will promote discussion from both technical and operational perspectives on activities required in domestic and foreign exchange services "to utilise blockchain and other new technologies, consolidate domestic and foreign exchange services, and build 24-hour and real-time remittance infrastructure".

The group has set a March 2017 deadline for delivery of a proof-of-concept ahead of a full commercial build.

The new comes as SBI Holdings advances plans to launch a digital currency exchange on the back of a £3 million investment. The company has set up a new subsidiary, SBI Virtual Currencies, with which it aims to capture a "new value asset management opportunity."

The moves comes after Japanese regulators in May moved to recognise virtual currencies and relax restrictions on bank investments in digital cash businesses.

SBI has not revealed details of the currencies that will be available on the platform, but the announcement has sparked excitement on digital money forums that Ripple's native digital asset XRP may finally get a public listing.

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