MUFG Plays Down Reports of Digital Currency Launch

Japan's MUFG Bank and Recruit Holdings were said to be launching a digital currency as part of a new payments venture. MUFG has now put that claim in doubt.

Dec 4, 2019 at 10:32 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:45 a.m. UTC

Update (10:40 UTC, Dec. 4, 2019): MUFG has issued a statement saying that while it has indeed agreed to enter a joint venture with Recruit, it has not made public the details.

Japan's MUFG Bank and Recruit Holdings are reportedly launching a digital currency as part of a new payments initiative.

The Japan News (a Yomiuri Shimbun outlet) said Wednesday it has learned that the two firms will initially target smartphone payments for general users before moving on to business-to-business payments.

MUFG and Recruit – a human resources giant that owns recruitment site Indeed and employer review site Glassdoor, among others – inked a deal to set up a joint venture for the project in October. MUFG is expected to own 49 percent of the new entity, with Recruit holding the remainder.

MUFG is part of the Mitsubishi Group and is the largest financial group in Japan, according to online sources.

Apparently aiming to launch in H1 2020, the two partners are now seeking licensing, including as a fund transfer service, in order to become a cashless payment business, The Japan News said.

The payment project is said to be targeting the firms' millions of customers, directly and via affiliated firms, with a smartphone app linking to users' bank accounts.

Among the services on offer, money transfers between users is likely to be part of the app's offerings, according to the report. Down the road, payments may widen to include B2B and payroll transactions.

MUFG is already working on a number of blockchain initiatives, including setting up a consortium to set standards for tokenized securities. It's also working on a trade finance project using R3's Corda blockchain and has invested in SEC-regulated Securitize and blockchain sleuthing firm Chainalysis.

Soon after the report was published, MUFG issued the following statement:

"Certain media outlets today published reports regarding establishment of a joint venture between MUFG Bank and Recruit Co., Ltd. These reports are not based on any announcement made by MUFG Bank. It is true that we have concluded the joint venture agreement for an establishment of a new company. No other decision has been made in this regard at this time."
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