It has been about a year since I blogged about the distributed ledger technology called blockchain and the establishment of the Hitachi Financial Innovation Lab in Santa Clara.
This year Hitachi has partnered with Tech Bureau to use the NEM-based Mijin Blockchain platform for Hitachi’s point management solution “PointInfinity” which serve 150 million members and users. PointInfinity is a rewards system that allows you to earn points at one place and use them in another place similar to Plenti in the United States. Pointinfinity makes use of data-driven results and application know-how which allows merchants to deploy point-based and electronic money management systems. Members can design their own membership programs and Point of Sale (PoS) software for loyalty programs and special offers. It is a low-cost solution and can be implemented in a short period of time, while offering a high level of security. Hitachi’s PointInfinity system has gained immense popularity over the past few years by service providers and dealers that utilize loyalty based programs for frequent customers. It is the most popular points reward system in Japan with the largest number of users.
The test began on 9th February, and will progress with the goal of determining whether a private blockchain could meet the demands of a high-volume transaction system. In statements, Tech Bureau CEO Takao Asayama said that he believes the trial could help boost the perception of what he believes could be a powerful use case in Japan, one that he believes appeals to customers and corporates. Besides speeding the exchange of points between its members blockchain technology is projected to reduce running costs by over 90% according to Tech Bureau executives.
Mijin is software that can build a private blockchain site for use within a business or inter-business, from the standpoint of the cloud or within the data center of one’s company. A product of Tech Bureau, Mijin blockchain’s applicable functionality has been proven as a bank, a microfinance ledger and an electronic money core banking system. Its NEM cryptocurrency have proved themselves in Japan as counter coinage and more than 300 companies already deal with it. Now this will be used with Hitachi’s PointInfinity points program,
The successful completion of this test will see one of the largest operational deployments of blockchain technology with the 150 million members of PointInfinity.
While Hitachi is well known for bullet trains and Enterprise IT systems, Hitachi Innovation is also leading the way in other business areas. This project with Pointinfinity and Tech Bureau helps with opening new ventures that deal with membership based on points and providing merchants with more services and rewards due to the engagement of a larger audience. The goal of this experiment enables the expansion of business from buyers because the points get used as currency, and several new services are made possible because of this development.
While this project uses blockchain technology from Tech Bureau, Hitachi has been investing in their own blockchain development and implementation. Hitachi is a founding member of the Hyperledger Consortium, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation, including leaders in finance, banking, IoT, supply chain, manufacturing and technology. Hitachi is also working with several companies on blockchain proof of concepts. One of these is a POC with the largest bank in Japan, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, testing a blockchain-based infrastructure that they developed to issue, transfer, collect, and clear electronic checks. The POC is being done in the Singapore Fintech friendly regulatory sandbox that was installed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
As the year progresses I will bring you updates on Hitachi's progress with blockchain. Some of the links provided in this post are in Japanese and will require Google translate.