A group of Japanese financial institutions are looking to create a blockchain-based platform they could leverage to cut costs on domestic and foreign exchange services.

Announced today, initial members include the Bank of Yokohama and SBI Sumishin Net Bank. Those involved in the effort will work with distributed ledger tech startup Ripple to develop the platform.

SBI Holdings, which owns SBI Sumishin Net Bank and has invested in startups working with the technology in the past, said in a statement that as many as 15 banks are expected to take part in the initiative when it formally launches in October.

The company said:

“While the Bank of Yokohama and SBI Sumishin Net Bank have been implementing various FinTech initiatives at an accelerated pace, the consortium will begin to consider new types of payment and settlement services that utilize blockchain technology, starting from October 2016.”

By the time the platform is ready for launch in March 2017, organizers hope to have as many as 30 banks using the new technology.

SBI Holdings, along with a subsidiary launched in partnership with Ripple, will spearhead the project, according to statements.

While it’s unclear at this time if other Japanese banks will join the group, the country’s finance industry has shown strong interest in the technology.

Rumors of a bank-issued digital currency have dogged Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MUFG) for months, and the bank, one of Japan’s largest, announced in April that it is working with blockchain startup Chain on a proof-of-concept.

Further, Japan has seen the emergence of working groups in the past year dedicated to use cases focused on finance.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Ripple. 

Shizuoka highway image via Shutterstock

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