Today SBI Ripple Asia (SRA) announced it has received a license for electronic payments as a ‘substitute business’. The substitute aspect refers to the fact that SRA is not a bank so its a substitute agent for electronic settlement. SRA is planning to launch its Money Tap remittance mobile app shortly.
In June, legislation relating to electronic payments came into force in Japan. Now electronic payment businesses can use open APIs to access bank data. SBI says the purpose is to “obtain information such as the balance and usage history of the depositor’s bank account from the bank and provide it to the depositor.” This is similar to the European Open Banking era that started in January this year.
Money Tap will enable payments between individuals, and the open APIs allow financial institutions to participate without getting deeply involved in blockchain technology.
There’s a significant difference between Money Tap and other Ripple-based systems. Unlike most Ripple applications which involve international transfers, Money Tap is for interbank transfers domestically as well. To make that happen, SRA created a consortium of more than 60 domestic banks. Currently, transfers between Japanese banks have to occur between 8.30am and 3.30pm weekdays or wait for that window. Money Tap will enable 24/7 transfers.
SBI Ripple Asia is a joint venture between SBI Holdings and Ripple, where SBI owns 60% of the equity.
Other SBI ventures
But it’s not the only SBI venture that uses Ripple. SBI owns numerous fintechs including SBI Remit, a subsidiary with a MoneyGram alliance. The company targets the 1.28 million foreign workers living in Japan. For example, by using RippleNet, SBI Remit can make real-time transfers to Thai workers with a Siam Commercial Bank account.
Yesterday SBI Holdings announced a trial of it’s S Coin, a virtual currency. Another subsidiary is SBI Virtual Currencies which runs a cryptocurrency exchange.
SBI Holdings also has an interest in R3. Is it possible SBI could have played a role in trying to mediate the settlement of the billion-dollar lawsuit between R3 and Ripple?