Mizuho Financial Group (MHFG), which is one of the largest financial institutions in the world and the second-largest financial services group in Japan, is reportedly launching its own yen-pegged stablecoin in March 2019 in a bid to promote cashless payments at Japanese retailers.
According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review on 26 December 2018, Mizuho "plans to introduce a proprietary digital currency that can be used for shopping and remitted at no cost, starting next March."
It seems that Mizuho, which is planning to have "about 60 regional banks on board", wants to launch a yen-pegged stablecoin, and it is hoping that by charging shops "fees significantly lower than for credit card services", a significant percentage of Japanese shops will adopt its digital currency. The value of this stablecoin will be fixed at 1 yen (roughly, 1 cent) per unit.
Users will need to download a dedicated mobile app, and they will be able to make payments by scanning QR codes.
The report says that users "will not be charged a fee for transferring funds to their smartphone from a bank account, returning funds to their account, or sending funds to other users," and that shops "will also not be charged fees for depositing digital currency funds received from customers into their corporate bank accounts, which can be performed immediately."
This new as yet unnamed stablecoin is the result of the J-Coin project, which was announced in December 2017 by Yasuhiro Sato, who was President of MHFG at the time. In a report by Nikkei Asian Review exactly one year ago today, we discovered that Sato had told them about J-Coin in an interview.
Sato said that J-Coin would gain mainstream adoption ""if the benefits to users and participating merchants become clear." He also said that it was important to have a bridge between J-Coin and the Alipay platform in order to allow Japanese retailers supporting J-Coin to accept payments from foreign visitors (especially those from China). Finally, he suggested that Mizuho would try find a convenient way for users to exchange J-Coin with other form of electronic money (including other sigital currencies).
Finally, it is worth pointing out that Japan's largest financial services group, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), also announced plans to launch its own digital currency (MUFG Coin) in January 2018.
Bitcoin.com reported on the progress of this project on 1 September 2018: "A convenience store for employees only, located at the group’s headquarters in Tokyo, has been allowing Mufg employees to pay with these coins. The Sankei Shimbun visited the store and reported this week that the experiment 'is quietly advancing'... A cash register has been set up for payments using Mufg coins at the store. Employees paying with them present the QR code displayed on their smartphones to the store clerk at checkout. Mufg will examine any issues faced by both the users or the merchant."