Passionate about strategy & innovation across Asia. At home in Japan. Connector of people & ideas.
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Digital Garage (DG) and Daiwa Securities have conducted a proof of concept (PoC) on utilizing blockchain technology to issue securities, whereby Daiwa Securities and Daiwa Food & Agriculture issue “Daiwa Securities Digital Corporate Bonds” and “Daiwa F&A Digital Corporate Bonds”, respectively.

This PoC was conducted in collaboration with Crypto Garage, a DG subsidiary developing blockchain financial services. Crypto Garage completed the development of an environment for issuing digital corporate bonds in a short period of time.

Crypto Garage provides technologies such as Delivery versus Payment (DvP) settlements and asset issuance. The information regarding “Daiwa Securities Digital Corporate Bonds” and “Daiwa…


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Since the late 1990s, Japanese banks have been operating in an ultra-low interest rate environment in which spreads between funding and lending rates have been compressed. As a result, banks’ net interest income has fallen over the past 15 years and banks have felt increasing pressure to reduce costs and find new sources of revenues other than domestic lending.

To make up for the contraction of their core business, banks expanded into Japanese government bonds (JGBs). The large-scale purchase of domestic government bonds allowed banks to continue de-risking, while keeping the size of the balance sheet constant or even expanding…


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Following the selection of the four “Global Hub Cities”, namely Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka & Fukuoka, in July 2020, the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry, and JETRO jointly announced today the selection of 50 startups from these hubs for an overseas expansion acceleration program.

The accelerator will run in February and March 2021, with a demo day planned for early April. The startups have been selected mainly from the robotics, mobility, IoT, new materials / devices, medical / healthcare, agriculture, space, and DX / IT services industries (nothing FinTech-specific!), …


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Photo by Jack Carter on Unsplash

We made it, 2020 is behind us, what a year! While offline events have obviously become scarce, our writing and podcasts helped us to stay connected with the community. Thank you for being here with us. The following are our most popular stories of the year, month-by-month, so it provides an interesting chronology of the topics you found most relevant.

January 2020

29 Innovative Japanese Startups at CES 2020 in Las Vegas


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Naturally, our offline event schedule was cut short in 2020, but regardless, two of the in-person events we managed to squeeze in before the lockdown also were among our most popular shows last year (Simone & Hayley), while Harumi managed to overtake most with a tremendously popular webinar towards the end of the year. We would like to thank all of our guests for taking the time to contribute to the community, of course. In case you missed them, please watch the top three, as well as all other recordings on our YouTube Channel.

#1 — Simone Maini, Elliptic


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Ten points to note about the Licensing Framework for Digital Banks published by Bank Negara Malaysia on the last day of the 2020 calendar year:

  • Applications to become a digital bank or Islamic digital bank in Malaysia are due at the latest by June 30, 2021
  • The decision on the license applications will be made by the first quarter of 2022
  • The particular license focus is on “underserved and hard-to-reach segments that may be unserved, which includes retail as well as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)” — §7.2
  • “Preference will be accorded to an application where the controlling equity…


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The Fletcher School at Tufts University & Mastercard in December 2020 published a comprehensive study, “Digital in the Time of COVID”, which includes the third edition of the Digital Evolution scorecard, following up on our earlier editions in 2017 and 2014, and the second edition of the Digital Trust scorecard. For the first time, it also provides an interactive version of the Digital Intelligence Index (DII). We highly recommend you taking a look if you are interested in the topic of Digital and its different permutations (Digitalization, Digitization, Digital Transformation, etc.).

As always, we are most interested in Japan’s absolute…


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As we have reported in our article about coincheck’s second quarter results, the cryptocurrency exchange belonging to Monex Group is planning to launch a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), essentially digital collectibles, in early 2021.

In mid-December, Animoca Brands and Coincheck announced a distribution agreement for the former’s NFTs in the Japanese gaming market through the latter’s NFT marketplace. This specifically includes F1® Delta Time, and other titles in the REVV Token ecosystem, such as upcoming games based on MotoGP™ and Formula E. …


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Following the highly publicized cases of e-payment fraud through NTT Docomo’s “Koza” service and a similar, overlapping exploit at Japan Post Bank, both disclosed in September this year, the Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA) has surveyed all banks under its purview, with 190 “voluntary” responses received.

Background

To recap, through NTT Docomo’s Koza service a total of JPY 25.42m (USD 240k) was stolen from customers’ bank accounts in 120 cases. The exploit became possible when NTT Docomo expanded the service in September last year to include users of other mobile carriers, after it was initially available only to its own subscribers…


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Not surprisingly, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) has chosen long-time technology partner NEC to build their next generation core banking system, as MONEYzine reported last month.

It struck us as curious that the reporting was emphasizing the next generation model of NEC’s mainframe, together with a new processor, rather than innovative products the engagement will provide. It is also valuable to know that the bank’s general ledger will migrate from a hierarchical database management system to a relational one. The core system renovation will begin rolling out in 2021, and be finished by 2025.

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