Report: Leading Japanese Shipping Line to Introduce Its Own Digital Currency

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Japan’s major shipping operator Nippon Yusen K.K. is reportedly introducing its own digital currency to enable marine workers to more easily convert money into local currencies.

Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K. (NYK) is reportedly launching its own digital currency for crew members, Bloomberg reported Nov. 20.

Established in 1885, Nippon Yusen is Japan’s largest shipping line in terms of sales. From April 1 to Sept. 30, 2018, NYK Group’s consolidated revenue was 915.6 billion yen ($8.1 billion).

People familiar with the matter reportedly told Bloomberg that NYK is introducing its own digital currency for crew members in order to simplify the process of managing, sending, and converting money into marine workers’ local currencies. The currency will purportedly be tied to U.S. dollars, which would help avoid serious swings in value.

According to Bloomberg, it is not clear whether NYK’s digital currency will use blockchain technology or be a form of cryptocurrency.

Per the anonymous sources, NYK is working with banks and software development companies to ensure the currency’s ability to be converted into local currencies. The company has reportedly conducted successful tests using shipboard telecommunications, and is now seeking a patent for the technology.

NYK will supposedly introduce the digital currency in the first half of 2019, while the initiative presupposes the use of smartphones. Along with paying their own workers, the company is also looking to offer the currency to other shipping operators.

Port and shipping authorities around the world have already embraced the potential of blockchain technology. Earlier this month, nine major terminal operators and shipping companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to launch an open digital platform based on distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The new platform will reportedly “allow shippers to digitize and organize their dangerous goods documents and automatically connect with relevant parties to streamline the approval process.”

In October, Europe’s largest port, the Port of Rotterdam, partnered with major Dutch bank ABN AMRO and the IT subsidiary of Samsung to test blockchain for shipping. The members of the blockchain trial expect the technology will help reduce shipping time and simplify financial transactions.