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Japan's Top Think Tank Launches Blockchain Study

(@GCaffyn) | Published on October 6, 2015 at 21:50 GMT
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Japanense think tank Nomura Research Institute (NRI) has announced it will study blockchain technology to assess its use in the securities sector.

Founded in 1965, the organisation is Japan's oldest private think tank, offering consulting services and provides IT solutions for various industries, including finance.

The study, due for completion in January, will inform "opportunities for practical application," the NRI recently announced..

A company spokesperson told CoinDesk:

"We have done work on blockchain technology before this project, but it was internal. This is our first time to collaborate with external companies regarding a proof of concept project on blockchain technology."

Alongside Nomura Securities, Japan's largest and oldest securities firm, the NRI said its cross-department team will collaborate with technology startups in the country. Both the NRI and Nomura Securities share a parent company, Nomura Holdings.

Japan is host to a growing number of bitcoin firms, including Tokyo-based exchange BitFlyer and Orb, which announced it had raised $2.3m in seed funding today.

Securities sector

Experts have marked the securities sector – fraught with bottlenecks, silos and paperwork – as one ripe for disruption from distributed ledger technology.

Startups including SETL, Symbiont and Digital Asset Holdings are angling to siphon volume from firms like the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), which clears $1.6 quadrillion annually.

NRI – a publicly traded company – manages many of the post-trade processes that take place in these back offices. Its I-STAR service – created in 1987 – is the de facto solution for Japan's investment banks.

In September, NRI announced it would be providing its Prime Settlement Service – which includes I-STAR – to UBS from next month.

The Swiss investment bank began its own blockchain research with the opening of its experimental London 'lab' in April. Its mission over the next year is to help "future proof" the bank, project lead Alex Batlin recently told CoinDesk.

While declining to name any potential partners, the NRI spokesperson did confirm the company's plans to invite overseas companies to join the project as "technological supporters".

The spokesperson added:

"NRI always strives to create new values by increasing the value of the solutions and innovating in new fields, and open innovation is one of the means to achieve that goal."

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