New York-based Digital Asset helps Japanese financial giant SBI develop ‘smart yen’ – TechCrunch

SBI Holdings, a Japanese securities and banking giant that launched a crypto asset fund for retail investors last year, has been actively investing in the infrastructure that will allow it to roll out more crypto products.

The company recently made a strategic investment in Digital Asset, a New York-based startup known for building enterprise blockchain solutions, it said in an announcement. As part of the deal, the pair will launch a joint venture this year to operate in East Asia, including Japan and South Korea.

The undisclosed round adds to the $300 million in funding that Digital Asset has raised since its inception in 2014 from companies like IBM and Goldman Sachs, which are tokenizing assets with help from the blockchain company.

The goal of the partnership is to bring programmable money, or digital money that can be coded to act in a certain way based on predefined terms, into the Japanese market, Digital Asset said in a separate statement.

The programmable money is tentatively dubbed “smart yen” and will use Daml, the smart contract language created by Digital Asset and known to play a role in the Australian Securities Exchange’s distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is also a client of Daml, which is expediting the settlement of the exchange.

Smart yen, according to Yoshitaka Kitao, president and representative director of SBI Holdings, “allows building a revolutionary, customer-centric money system by directly linking each individual customer loyalty program to deposits and fully automating the process of loyalty through smart contracts. ”

The smart money system has the potential to “create additional opportunities for retail banks in Japan to develop innovative offerings such as loyalty programs, vouchers and other incentives to drive customer growth and retention,” said Yuval Rooz, co-founder of Digital Asset who took over as CEO in 2019.

Digital Asset is just one of the few investments that the Japanese financial institution has sealed to expand its crypto business. In mid-May, it made a significant acquisition when it acquired a majority stake in the Japanese crypto exchange BITPoint. In late 2020, SBI bought UK-based crypto trading platform B2C2.

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