SBI Ripple Asia, the Tokyo-based joint enterprise of SBI Holdings and Ripple, has registered as a substitute agent for electronic settlement with the Ministry of Finance bureau in the region of Kantou.
This is the first step in the process of legally implementing the blockchain-based ‘MoneyTap’ service in Japan.
Inter-bank payment system
MoneyTap is an inter-bank payment system which will operate 24 hours a day, an improvement on the current system which only works between 0830 and 1500 on weekdays.
A banking reform law passed on the 1st of June 2018 made it necessary to register with a local finance bureau in order to handle a payment system which works though bank APIs. MoneyTap is such a remittance application.
Beta testing began in February 2018, and by March, 61 different Japanese banks, which between them handle approximately 80 percent of all banking assets in that country, had signed up.
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SBI and its subsidiaries
SBI Ripple Asia is the lovechild of SBI Holdings and Ripple, created in January 2016. SBI Holdings itself is a division of SBI Group, a giant Japanese financial firm.
The other cryptocurrency-related subsidiaries of SBI Group include SBI Virtual Currencies, which manages a cryptocurrency exchange called VCTRADE, SBI Crypto Investments, which recently announced plans to open a derivatives-trading platform, and a Bitcoin mining operation, which was first announced in October 2017.
When the aforementioned exchange was first revealed in April 2018, the plan was that for it to only handle payments in XRP, the cryptocurrency associated with Ripple. SBI Holdings CEO Yoshitaka Kitao had said that this token is “…faster, cheaper and more scalable than any other digital asset.” However, the company changed its tune the following month, saying that it will also offer Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum.
“we haven’t gotten there yet.”
In April, Spanish banking giant Santander because the first institution to launch a Ripple payment system when it went live with a system based on xCurrent. This system works by making all currencies, crypto or otherwise, immediately fungible, and by using ‘connectors’ which hold enough money to facilitate transfers. This system does not use XRP.
Interestingly, in June 2018, the chief cryptographer of Ripple, David Schwartz, said that Ripple payment services are not yet ready to handle the kinds of volumes that banks manage while maintaining privacy. “I will concede,” said he, “we haven’t gotten there yet.”