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Large Japanese bank to turn credit card unit into digital currency platform

Friday 19 May 2017 | 10:35 AM CET

The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) has announced plans to turn a credit card unit into a hub for digital currencies and payments, according to a Nikkei report.

The move aims to prepare a societal shift to cashless payments through digital currencies and digital wallets. Currently, the bank holds an 85% stake in Japanese credit card issuer Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos, with the remaining 15% owned by Norinchukin Bank, a Tokyo-based bank that primarily services agricultural cooperatives. MUFG expects Nicos to manage the core system when virtual currencies take root widely.

The bank has been working on digital currencies projects since 2015, when it issued and tested internally its own digital currency called ‘MUFG coin’, which is expected to see a commercial rollout later in 2017. In March 2017, MUFG entered a significant partnership with Ripple, joining its ‘Global Payments Steering Group’.

Currently, the bank, together with Mizuho and SMBC, are all investors in Tokyo-based bitFlyer, a large Japanese Bitcoin exchange. MUFG is also an investor in San Francisco-based Bitcoin exchange Coinbase.

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