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SBI Ripple Asia, a joint venture between Tokyo-based banking giant SBI Holdings and US startup Ripple Labs, has secured regulatory clearance to launch its blockchain-based payment application MoneyTap. The company announced on Wednesday it had registered with the Kantou bureau of Japan's Ministry of Finance as a licensed agent for handling electronic payments.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) announced in May that businesses looking to conduct electronic cash transfers through banks’ Application Program Interfaces (APIs) must first register with the local finance bureau. The legislation became effective on June 1.

SBI Ripple Asia explained that it had to meet the new regulatory requirement as the MoneyTap app uses distributed ledger technology (DLT) to conduct transactions via open APIs. 

SBI Ripple Asia introduced its MoneyTap project in March. The app will target Japanese on-demand payments with a 24/7 service since availability is a significant issue for local businesses. Currently, domestic banking transactions are conducted on weekdays between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm.

The Japan Bank Consortium (JBC), an organization comprising 61 local banks (SBI included), will be the main app client. MoneyTap is set to go live by the end of the year, with SBI Net Sumishin Bank, Suruga Bank, and Resona Bank to be the first clients.

The news of SBI Ripple Asia securing a blockchain payment license follows an official announcement on Tuesday that revealed SBI Holding’ plans to launch S Coin - a cryptocurrency token for mobile retail payments.

In a separate development this week, SBI Holdings’ remittance services arm, SBI Remit, unveiled a partnership with Kenyan money transfer company BitPesa to enable cross-border payments between Japan and Africa using the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain. The Japanese group also recently launched a virtual coin trading platform and revealed plans for a cryptocurrency derivatives platform.