Fake News: Japan’s Largest Bank isn’t Launching a Cryptocurrency
Contrary to reports, Japan’s largest bank isn’t launching a cryptocurrency. | Source: Shutterstock
Several crypto media outlets have reported that Japan’s Mizuho, the country’s largest bank, and dozens of others are launching a blockchain product. According to Quartz, however, these reports are false in the extreme: J-Coin has nothing to do with cryptocurrency or even blockchain in general.
Rather than a blockchain product, the J-Coin initiative is an effort to modernize Japan’s economy. Roughly 4 in 5 transactions in Japan happen with cash, which puts it far behind the rest of the world in terms of electronic payment adoption. In nearby China, Tencent’s WePay, a QR-code based system which integrates with the user’s bank account and allows them to instantly pay for goods, is very commonly used. Nothing is more common than AliPay, however, which has over 700 million users out of China’s more than 1 billion residents.
Several factors contribute to the low adoption rate of electronic payments in Japan. First off, negative and low interest rates have likely encouraged the Japanese to hoard their cash. Secondly, the country has one of the lowest crime rates in the world – people are more comfortable carrying around cash. Lastly, the Japanese population is older than most – only Monaco has a higher median age than Japan’s 47. Digital payments and smartphones are more popular among younger people.