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An official announcement confirms that Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings is piloting a native cryptocurrency project that allows users to make purchases via their smartphones.

SBI’s Crypto Push

S Coin will provide a litmus test for the commercial usage of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. S Coin – short for Settlement Coin – can be used for cross-border settlements and mobile recharging via a smartphone application. For trial purposes, SBI employees will initially use the S Coin platform for transactions at cafes and partner restaurants based out of the firm’s headquarters.

The launch is a partnership effort with two Tokyo-based companies, Orb and Glory Corporation, which were both previously funded by SBI holdings. Orb has provided SBI with the digital ledger technology needed for the project. Glory Corporation, for its part, has developed the payment systems that will facilitate crypto to fiat transactions. Glory’s payment system will also allow users to top-up their phone balances.

Attempting to be Japan’s next Ethereum, the S Coin platform can support the development and creation of various virtual currencies and be tailored to specific needs. Following successful tests, SBI will look to create a cashless society by offering fast payment solutions developed in-house to retailers with businesses all around the globe.

SBI Forging Ahead with Blockchain Investments

SBI is pursuing cryptocurrency investments and blockchain technology with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm. The Tokyo-based financial powerhouse handles hundreds of billions in assets across the globe. Recently, the firm launched “VCTrade,” a cryptocurrency exchange aimed at the local Japanese market, while also running several trials with Ripple’s xRapid remittance solution.

For the xRapid project, SBI onboarded 37 local and international banks on the joint effort, leveraging Ripple’s “well laid out” blockchain network in Japan.

As for its VCTrade platform, SBI is spearheading the world’s first bank-backed cryptocurrency exchange. At present, VC Trade is open to Japanese citizens aged 20-70 but only offers the Ripple XRP/JPY trading pair. SBI firmly backs the XRP token despite broader skepticism for Ripple in the cryptocurrency community. Many have made claims about Ripple’s “centralization” and lack of a clear use case in facilitating cross-border payments. SBI is keen to proceed in its partnership with Ripple despite these claims.