JAPAN - Cryptocurrency to Replace Cash?

Arno Froese

Most payments in the world’s third largest economy involve paper bills and metal coins. That sets Japan far apart from China and South Korea, where various “cashless” electronic payment schemes dominate, as well as the West, where credit and debit cards are much more popular.

That means the country also has a lot of ATMs—probably over 200,000—as well as cash registers and fleets of vehicles for moving money around. It all adds up to an estimated $18 billion a year in costs, most borne by the financial industry.

Next year, hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors—most from countries where credit cards and digital payments are second nature—will descend on Tokyo for the Olympics. They’re expected to spend billions of dollars during the event, and Japan’s financial system simply isn’t equipped to handle it. Hundreds of millions could be left on the table.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the country’s largest bank and the fifth largest in the world by total assets, has teamed with American internet company Akamai to build a blockchain-based consumer payment network in time for the Olympics.

If the experiment works, the country’s economy might be remade. Everything from huge transactions between banks to small retail purchases could be carried out with barely any delay and at a fraction of the current cost; even today’s credit cards would be slow and expensive by comparison.

Long, long ago in cryptocurrency time—which is to say, between 2010 and early 2014—Tokyo-based Mt. Gox was the global online platform for buying and trading Bitcoin. In 2013, it accounted for 70% of all Bitcoin transactions. So when hackers made off with $450 million worth of Bitcoin from the exchange, causing it to collapse, the shock waves were felt worldwide.

-www.technologyreview.com, 22 January 2019

Arno's commentary

Primarily due to advances in communication, the world is racing towards the goal of absolute dependence on man’s own inventions and creation.

Most of us don’t realize how fast this development is sprinting across the globe. Finance, particularly based on the Internet using blockchain networks, has eliminated borders, cultures, and languages. And, there is more to come almost on a daily basis.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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