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Major Japanese Fintech Company Reveals Plans to Launch Crypto Exchange This Year

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The operator of one of Japan’s most popular personal budgeting apps Money Forward has announced its plans to launch a crypto asset exchange this year.

Money Forward Inc., the operator of one of Japan’s most popular personal budgeting apps, has announced its plans to launch a crypto asset exchange this year, in a company press release Wednesday, May 23.

A new subsidiary, MF Financial Co., Ltd., that launched today will be devoted to the company’s new crypto exchange project, and will be headed by a member of Money Forward’s Blockchain and Virtual Currency Laboratory.

The press release outlines MF’s plans to first launch a crypto media platform by summer 2018, followed by a crypto asset exchange and the construction of a digital assets remittance and settlement system, which the MF Laboratory has been researching since December 2017.

As of late 2017, the Tokyo-based company reportedly has 5.5 mln users, with over 500,000 Japanese businesses and 2,400 accounting firms using its cloud-based software for their tax accounting and invoices.

The company today also announced improved tools for its customers who currently use cryptocurrencies, providing them with an automated crypto accounts book that can be supported with data from twenty domestic and foreign crypto exchanges. The new tools also simplify users’ crypto tax return filings, by giving them an automated profit and loss calculation tool for their transaction histories.

Major Japanese financial institutions are increasingly making inroads in facilitating the country’s booming cryptocurrency sector. Just yesterday, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth largest bank by total assets, successfully piloted a cross-border payment using a Thai bank’s Blockchain Interledger.

In the past two weeks, MUFG has also revealed that it is partnering with a US cloud delivery platform to launch a blockchain-based global payment network, as well as announcing plans to trial its own cryptocurrency by 2019. Meanwhile, Japan-based global investment bank Nomura last week announced its venture to establish a custodian solution for digital assets, targeting institutional investment in the crypto space.

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Berkeley City Council Moves Ahead With Pilot Program For Issuing City Bonds On Blockchain

The Berkeley city council has approved a plan that would sell municipal micro-bonds on a blockchain, the plan will now be considered by the city manager.

The city of Berkeley, California has moved forward with an initiative to apply blockchain technology to public financing to raise funds for community projects, Bloomberg reports May 2. Last night the Berkeley city council unanimously voted to ask the city manager to consider a pilot program that proposes selling municipal bonds using blockchain technology.

The project, initiated by Vice Mayor Ben Barlett, aims to introduce another funding method to the city financial infrastructure that would ostensibly increase community investment by reducing the minimum bond price.

Barlett said that the pilot venture intends to launch “micro-bonds” which would allow the issuance of bonds in denominations in the range of $10 to $25. The typical minimum denomination for a municipal bond is $5,000. According to Barlett, people can more easily afford $10 than $5,000 for a bond, which would make investing in city projects a more viable option for average citizens.

Using blockchain would provide a ledger platform, upon which micro-bonds would be recorded as soon as they are issued. Barlett says that coupling micro-bonds with the blockchain is, “meant to get around Wall Street.”

Barlett added that, should the political process allow it, they could go one step further and support funding municipal projects via a tokenized currency. The idea was met by some skepticism from Councilwoman Susan Wengraf, who said:

“I don’t know much about it, but I know it’s very unstable. The examples used by other communities successfully [issuing mini-bonds] was based on dollars – cash, not cryptocurrency. I would be very happy to support the first part of the proposal and more skeptical about cryptocurrency.”

Berkeley started considering a municipal token in February, after a tweet from US President Donald Trump raised concern that the local university would lose its federal funding. Berkeley is also a sanctuary city, meaning that it doesn’t cooperate with the federal government to enforce immigration law. The Trump administration has recently been threatening to pull funding to sanctuary cities as part of their immigration reform.

According to city officials, issuing a Berkeley municipal token would be one way for the city to avoid budget shortfalls that are the result of resisting the current presidential administration.

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