Banking News

Akamai, MUFG unveil blockchain payments JV

MUFG

Yesterday Akamai Technologies and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s largest bank, announced they are jointly establishing a blockchain-based payment network called Global Open Network (GO-NET). This is an extension of the relationship announced in May last year.

The new payment service will be available in the first half of 2020. It’s more than a mobile payments network as there’s an emphasis on IoT. The announcement described functionality to include IOT-enabled payment, micropayments, pay-per-use, and existing payment processing functions. It’s unclear if there’s any cross over with the planned MUFG Coin, as there is no mention of it either in this or the May 2018 announcement.

Akamai says its Blockchain as a Service solution is capable of processing a million transactions per second with two-second finality.

“This joint venture with MUFG sets the stage for a new blockchain-based online payment system that can better serve customers’ and partners’ payment processing needs,” said Dr. Tom Leighton, CEO and co-founder of Akamai.

“MUFG has high expectations for our joint venture with Akamai. Our goal is to enable rapid innovation in digital payment services, leveraging a transformative platform, with built-in security, hyper-scale and efficiencies”, said Hironori Kamezawa, Group CDTO of MUFG and CEO of GO-NET. “GO-NET aims to expand the payment network business to a global scale, and enhance the services to support diverse payment ideas in the upcoming IoT era.”

Japanese Coin projects

Separately, MUFG has been working on MUFG Coin for several years. GO-NET is likely a separate network project which could have some crossover. The bank demonstrated the MUFG Coin in October last year.

There are multiple digital coins planned in Japan in preparation for the 2020 Summer Olympics. For example, the Mizuho Financial Group is planning to launch its J-Coin with 60 regional banks in March according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Earlier in 2018 Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial settled on a standard for QR codes for cashless transactions. Nikkei Asian Review said there were plans for a joint service between the banks which were scrapped because of the separate coin initiatives.

Japanese retail payments are still predominantly in cash, but digital payments are progressing with offerings from Line, PayPay, SBI Sumishin Net Bank, Suruga Bank and a Resona Holdings.