One of Japan’s Largest Banks is Downplaying its Rumored Digital Currency Plans

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Is a major Japanese financial institution developing its own digital currency?

First asserted in a report by The Asahi Shimbun in February, a number of reports are now speculating that Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG), one of Japan’s largest banks by total assets, is working on its own digital currency, named MUFG coin.

As reported by The Asahi Shimbun today, MUFG coin is expected to become available in late 2017, a release that would allow users to withdraw digital currency from its ATM network onto a mobile device.

The news source wrote:

“Under the planned system, users can withdraw money from their bank accounts into an app on their smartphones. The money will be converted into MUFG coins at a rate of one MUFG coin to 1 yen.”

Yet in statements, representatives of MUFG have long distanced themselves from the idea that the company is seeking to issue a digital currency.

In February, representatives from MUFG said that the MUFG coin project as described in the original Asahi Shimbun report did not exist.

While not as clear in comments made today, a spokesperson suggested that MUFG is still weighing how it might move its blockchain technology experiments forward.

The spokesperson told:

“What MUFG coin will be, or [whether it] will it be released, has yet to be decided.”

Nonetheless, the digital currency rumors come at a time when MUFG is exploring blockchain technology applications to its business needs. In April, MUFG revealed it was working on a proof-of-concept centered on the delivery of promissory notes.

The partnership with blockchain startup Chain followed MUFG’s decision to join distributed ledger consortium R3 in September 2015.

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