A consortium of Japanese banks that includes Mizuho Financial Group is actively weighing the benefits of launching their own digital currency. According to details published this week in the Financial Times, the banks would like to create the currency - which is being referred to as the "J-Coin" - to help Japanese consumers end their reliance on physical cash.
The Times report suggests that the banks plan to launch the J-Coin sometime prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. CNBC reached out to a Mizuho spokesperson, however, and the bank declined to confirm that launch date. Instead, the Mizuhospokesperson indicated that the banks have much to do before the J-Coin would be ready for launch. In fact, the idea has not even been approved by the nation’s regulators.
CNBC reports that it was told via email that "The project is in the early stages, and we have just held study meetings with other institutions." Bank representatives also said that the J-Coin would be “pegged with Japanese Yen, and hopefully used to make payments and transfers through a mobile phone app."
If the effort goes forward, it could help to spark dramatic changes in the way Japan’s consumers view and use money. According to estimates, cash is used for roughly 70 percent of all transactions in Japan. The J-Coin would facilitate greater use of smartphone payment options, and might even assist the banks in their efforts to meet emerging challenges from e-payment services offered by companies like Apple.