The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, founded in February by around 30 European and American members including JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft, welcomed a slew of new faces Monday. These included MUFG, the Toyota Research Institute and startup Smart Contract Japan.
The consortium supports research on ways to apply blockchain technology, the distributed record-keeping system underpinning virtual currencies, to business transactions. It aims to create technical standards for such technology.
Ethereum is a virtual currency, with a market value of more than $16.8 billion. But Ethereum's blockchain -- the record of all transactions in the currency that is held by each user and maintained communally -- is more sophisticated than bitcoin's. It can encode and automatically execute contracts and track the ownership and movement of property, in addition to recording when funds change hands. Businesses can combine this open platform with proprietary elements to build systems ideally suited to their particular needs.
MUFG unit Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is also working with a group of companies led by Ripple of the U.S. to develop a next-generation international payments network based on blockchain technology.