Japan’s Softbank trials blockchain-based mobile payments service

Japanese telecommunications group Softbank has successfully completed a proof-of-concept for a mobile payments system powered by blockchain.

Developed in partnership with Synchronoss and TBCASoft, the platform allows for payments to be sent peer-to-peer across different mobile carriers, in a process similar to sending a standard text message. Notably, the partnership with Synchronoss allows the platform to benefit from the Rich Communication Service protocol, an alternative to SMS popularised by Synchronoss in Japan. The platform allows users to complete purchases in-store, on mobile and digitally, including in local currencies, with global compatibility across carriers.

The payments platform integrates RCS technology as well as blockchain for processing the payments, with the proof of concept already hailed a success by the firms involved.

Takeshi Fukuizumi, vice president of the Softbank group, said the system will enable merchants of all sizes to operate at scale in processing payments globally.

“This RCS and blockchain based mobile payments PoC demonstrates the value operator-led services can deliver. Not only do we foresee our new mobile payment service empowering merchants to operate digitally, and at a scale that was previously only available to big brands, but it will also give our customers more flexibility when it comes to their purchasing and travelling habits,” Fukuizumi said.

Synchronoss President and CEO Glenn Lurie said the proof-of-concept demonstrated technology that was poised to disrupt the messaging and payments markets.

“Our PoC demonstrates how SoftBank is at the forefront in bringing to market new cutting edge technology through the use of blockchain as well as new RCS-based mobile services, which will disrupt the current messaging and payments market, creating new opportunities for customers, brands, and businesses—and which will also drive incremental revenue for operators from messaging,” Lurie said in a statement.

The announcement comes just a year after Softbank set up the Carrier Blockchain Study Group, a project established to look at technologies for facilitating payments across carriers on the blockchain. TBCASoft also contributed to that earlier consortium effort, alongside Taiwan carrier FarEasTone and U.S. carrier Sprint.

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