The Bank of Japan on Thursday kicked off a series of discussions with 60 companies on a pilot programme for developing a digital yen, joining peers around the globe ramping up efforts towards issuing digital versions of their currencies for retail use.
The discussions will touch on various themes including the business and technological features of retail settlements using a central bank digital currency (CBDC), the central bank said in a statement.
The BOJ has said no decision has been made yet on whether Japan will actually issue a digital yen, which must be made by the government and parliament.
But many big Japanese companies were included in the list of 60 firms selected to join the discussions, a sign Japan is moving steadily toward such a launch.
Aside from megabanks and regional lenders, the group included electronics giant Sony, convenience store operator Lawson, the financial arm of auto giant Toyota as well as East Japan Railway.
Central banks around the globe have been studying and working on digital versions of their currencies for retail use to avoid leaving digital payments to the private sector amid an accelerating decline in the use of cash.
Some two dozen central banks across emerging and advanced economies are expected to have digital currencies in circulation by the end of the decade, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) found in a survey published earlier this month.
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