TOKYO -- Japan's Mizuho Financial Group plans to introduce a proprietary digital currency that can be used for shopping and remitted at no cost, starting next March.
Under the plan, retail shops using the currency will be charged fees significantly lower than for credit card services.
The banking group aims to promote cashless payments by bringing about 60 regional banks on board.
The digital currency is the result of the J-Coin project announced in 2017 by Mizuho Financial Group Chairman Yasuhiro Sato, who was president and CEO at the time. It will become the first of its kind operated by a Japanese megabanks.
To make use of the currency, users will download a dedicated app on their smartphone. Payments will be made using QR codes.
The value of the digital currency will be fixed at 1 yen (1 cent) per unit, and will not fluctuate on the market, as virtual currencies such as bitcoin do.
Users will not be charged a fee for transferring funds to their smartphone from a bank account, returning funds to their account, or sending funds to other users.
Retail shops will also not be charged fees for depositing digital currency funds received from customers into their corporate bank accounts, which can be performed immediately.
Regional banks will be able to provide the same service under the same, yet-to-be-named brand to their customers. Users will be able to use the digital currency at any of the participating regional banks.