Japan’s SBI Group, R3 Set Up Blockchain Joint Venture for Asia

The new entity is the second joint venture SBI has established in partnership with a US blockchain company.

SBI Group, one of the largest financial services companies in Asia, has signed a new cooperation agreement with US blockchain startup R3. The deal creates a joint venture aiming to offer distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions to the financial sector in East Asia, the Japanese conglomerate said in a press release on Tuesday.

The new entity targets mainly South Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and SBI’s home market. The Japanese group controls 60% of the venture, while the US startup owns the remaining 40%. However, SBI’s control extends further as the company is the largest shareholder of R3 outside of the stake held by CEO David Rutter.

The joint venture will develop solutions by utilizing open blockchain as well as the commercial DLT version dubbed Corda Enterprises. The focus will be on real estates, trade finance, supply chain, syndicated loans, and similar financial activities.

“The SBI Group is expanding its investments and partnerships with venture companies related to digital asset platforms to enhance the ecosystem based on digital assets. SBI Holdings will continue to promote the development of financial services through alliances with startup companies using blockchain / DLT which will be the core technology of next generation fintech that is efficient and highly beneficial for customers,” the statement said.

Currently, SBI Group has a DLT joint venture with another US blockchain startup, Ripple. The California-based company is behind the second-largest virtual coin by market capitalization, XRP (XRP). According to the SBI Ripple Asia website, the company targets financial institutions and remittance providers on the continent. It is unclear whether SBI plans any cooperation between the two joint ventures as Ripple was caught in a protracted battle with R3 over 5 billion XRP (worth around $1.45 billion) before settling the case last year.

SBI Group, which is mainly banking-oriented, is one of the most active traditional financial players that seeks new revenue streams by investing in virtual coins and their underlying technology. In 2018, the corporation launched its cryptocurrency exchange, VCTRADE.

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