Daily Review: Japan’s Banks Are Taking Control Over the Payments Industry

Following the examples of US with Zelle, Australia with NPP, and India with UPI, Japan’s banking sector takes control over the payments segment in the country. A total of 61 banks covering more than 80% of all banking assets in Japan came together to build a new, blockchain-based payments system working in real-time, 24/7, to compete and possibly replace the existing inefficient payment rails.

Pick #1. Ripple-Powered Mobile App to Provide On-Demand Domestic Payments in Japan

The Japan Bank Consortium (comprised of 61 banks covering more than 80% of all banking assets in Japan) will release a smartphone application called “MoneyTap” – powered by Ripple’s blockchain technology – to allow customers of the bank consortium to settle transactions instantly, 24/7. “MoneyTap” is the first mobile app of its kind to be developed and used by multiple, different banks in the country.

Three members of the Japan bank consortium: SBI Net Sumishin Bank, Suruga Bank, and Resona Bank will be the first to go live on the mobile app in the autumn of 2018. This will be followed by a staggered rollout to the rest of consortium.

MoneyTap allows the bank consortium customers to make instant domestic payments and only requires a bank account, phone number, or QR code.

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Pick #2. WeChat, Alipay Tie Up With Tax Refund Providers to Service Chinese Tourists

WeChat Pay and Alipay have partnered with tax refund firms with the aim to ease the tax rebate process for Chinese tourists at airports.

Late last month, WeChat Pay partnered with Switzerland-based tax refund company Global Blue to provide instant tax refunds for Chinese tourists departing from the Madrid airport. A similar service was rolled out using Alipay at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Users of the service can get their tax refunds settled in Chinese yuan and sent instantly to their WeChat wallet or Alipay accounts after their tax refund forms are processed. Both services utilize QR codes.

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Pick #3. Mastercard Acquires Oltio to Accelerate Digital Payments Adoption in Middle East & Africa

Mastercard has completed its acquisition of mobile payments technology company Oltio from Standard Bank Group.

Over the coming months, Mastercard will leverage Oltio’s technology, people, and infrastructure to enhance and scale its existing suite of digital solutions for merchants and issuers in cash-orientated, emerging markets – in turn, enabling them to deliver more seamless payment experiences to the consumer.

Issuers will benefit from added functionality including person-to-person payments, bill payments, and airtime top-ups, which they can integrate into their existing mobile banking applications.

For merchants, Mastercard will enhance and scale its omnichannel acceptance solutions, enabling even the smallest businesses to accept digital payments using efficient and affordable technology, such as Quick Response (QR) codes.

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Pick #4. Coinbase Eyes Bitcoin ETF With New Cryptocurrency Index Fund

The Coinbase Index Fund, which will invest in the same cryptocurrencies traded on Coinbase and its institutional exchange GDAX – currently including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin – will be available only to US-accredited investors, or those who have annual income of at least $200,000 or a net worth of at least $1 million. But Coinbase is hoping to launch a similar fund available to all investors regardless of wealth, likely structured as an exchange-traded fund (or ETF), pending regulatory approval.

“We are working towards funds that will be available to all retail investors,” Reuben Bramanathan, product lead for the Coinbase Index Fund, told Fortune, calling it “the first priority.

“We’re expecting huge demand from retail when that’s available, and we want to be in a position to accept that demand.”

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Pick #5. Huawei Seeks Patent for Blockchain Rights Management

In its latest patent application, the Shenzhen-based technology firm details an invention that claims to add a verification feature to a P2P content distribution network powered by blockchain technology.

The system would store verification information for digital content on a blockchain. When parties initiate download requests over the peer-to-peer network, the system matches their private keys or licenses for accessing the content with the verification information. Only if a consensus is reached in validating the request will the blockchain allow the download.

Huawei claims that the technology is, in essence, a way to guard intellectual property rights for digital content that is distributed over peer-to-peer networks.

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Elena Mesropyan

Global Head of Content, MEDICI Elena is a research professional with a background in social sciences and extensive experience in consumer behavior studies and marketing analytics. She is passionate about technologies enabling financial inclusion for underprivileged and vulnerable groups of the population around the world.