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Japan’s SMBC may invest in blockchain venture SBI R3


Last week, SBI Holdings announced it signed an MoU with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMBC) to discuss the sale of shares of SBI R3 Japan.

SBI R3 is a joint venture (JV) between SBI Holdings and enterprise blockchain firm R3 to push the adoption of the Corda blockchain technology in Japan. In 2019, the two set up the company, which currently has a registered capital of JPY 500 million ($4.6 million). SMBC wants to take part in the joint initiative by acquiring a 14% stake, leaving R3 with 35% and the majority with SBI.

U.S.-based R3 is the original developer of the open-source Corda distributed ledger technology (DLT) and has more than 300 partners around the globe. Some of the use cases being deployed on Corda include finance applications such as syndicated loanstrade financeinsurance, as well as real estatesupply chains and others. 

SBI Holdings claims it is the largest outside shareholder of R3, and the JV was formed with the intent to support the adoption and licensing of Corda blockchain in Japan. It has a similar relationship with Ripple and has set up the JV, SBI Ripple Asia, which is working with Japanese partners to roll out blockchain applications. 

SBI is also thought to have played a role in the settlement of major litigation between R3 and Ripple.

Meanwhile, SMBC has other blockchain initiatives and has worked on Corda through its relationship with the Marco Polo trade finance network. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, a unit of with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, is part of the Singapore government’s  TradeTrust initiative.

Additionally, SMBC is a member of JP Morgan’s Interbank Information Network, for blockchain payment messaging. This uses Quorum, the enterprise blockchain version of Ethereum developed by JP Morgan. 

SMBC invested in another Ethereum-based project, Fnality, which aims to issue institutional digital currencies backed by commercial deposits at central banks.