Japan’s SBI Holdings, an investor in both R3 and Ripple, announced a new S coin platform that uses R3’s enterprise blockchain Corda to issue regional currencies. SBI says it started testing the coins with group employees this month. The purpose is a digital currency issuance platform for electronic money.
SBI also has the Money Tap platform developed using Ripple technology to enable bank to bank payments. Most Japanese bank payments can only function during office hours, but Money Tap payments work 24/7. Additionally, Money Tap enables retail merchants to accept bank payments. The aim is for these Money Tap merchants also to accept S coins in addition to bank payments.
The Group is promoting regional revitalization projects, and many of the Money Tap partners are regional. So local currencies may be issued as part of this initiative.
There’s plenty of competition for local coins in Japan. Mizuho Bank has its J-Coin issued with 60 banks and Japan’s biggest bank MUFG is about to launch the MUFG coin in association with the Hot Pepper Gourmet restaurant booking website.
Regional digital currencies are already a feature in South Korea and have been used to distributed COVID-19 relief.
Meanwhile, as previously reported, SBI has a wide range of investments in the blockchain sector, including a recent investment in Nomura’s security token startup BOOSTRY. For now, SBI is especially pushing its SBI R3 joint venture to promote the Corda blockchain in Japan. Recently SBI has included in XRP in its dividend payments. The digital currency is associated with Ripple.
R3 and Ripple were also involved in a protracted legal battle over billions of dollars of XRP, because R3 secured options on a large quantity of XRP in exchange for consulting and introductions. Ripple alleged that the services were never rendered. It’s rumored that SBI claimed to help in settlement negotiations, which resulted in a significant amount of XRP being paid to R3, likely in the hundreds of millions. This is evidenced by the lack of follow on funding raised by R3, despite its high headcount.