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Akamai and Japanese Bank MUFG Developing New Blockchain-Based Payment Network

Cloud delivery platform Akamai Technologies and global financial group Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) have announced plans to offer a new blockchain-based online payment network with next-generation scalability and throughput. According to the two companies, the new payment system will support a global network for processing credit cards and other financial transactions.

Built upon Akamai’s intelligent cloud platform, this new blockchain technology is expected to be highly scalable, decrease latency, enhance security and to vastly exceed the capabilities of other payment systems, including others based on blockchain technology.

“This hyper-scale payment network will leverage a new and innovative blockchain architecture developed by Akamai,” said Andy Champagne, vice president and CTO at Akamai Labs, in conversation with Distributed.com. “This network, when deployed in combination with Akamai’s Intelligent Platform, will improve scalability, reduce latency and enhance security. Our intention is to set new standards for the efficiency and scalability of payment networks, with the capability to process one million transactions per second at latencies of less than two seconds, end-to-end.”

It’s worth comparing these performance figures with those of the Bitcoin network, which currently has a processing capacity of seven transactions per second and latency of 60 minutes per transaction.

Akamai is the world’s largest cloud delivery platform. The company, which runs a massively distributed platform with over 200,000 servers in 130 countries, offers enterprise solutions for video delivery, cloud security, web and mobile performance, with 24/7 monitoring. 

MUFG, which is one of the main companies of the Mitsubishi Group, is Japan's largest financial group and one of the world's largest bank holding companies. A Fortune article titled “Japan's Biggest Bank to Switch on Blockchain Payments in 2020” noted that, among big corporations, MUFG is one of the most bullish on blockchain technology. After investing in the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and participating in blockchain pilots and projects with IBM and the financial industry consortium R3, the bank is planning to test its own cryptocurrency.

“For years, the financial industry has sought to utilize blockchain [technology] to secure and hasten transaction processing and lower associated costs,” said Nobuyuki Hirano, president and group CEO of MUFG, in a press release. “We have high expectations for our partnership with Akamai to provide customers the ability to support significantly greater volumes of high-speed payment transactions without compromising the level of security required for payment networks.”

The new payment network, built and deployed on the Akamai Intelligent Platform, is expected to be available in Japan during the first half of 2020, with support for current payment processing, pay-per-use, micropayment and Internet of Things (IoT) enabled transactions.

“This new blockchain-based online payment system, built upon our cloud platform, will be designed to address the concerns related to scalability, latency and security that have to date hindered broader use of blockchain[s],” said Dr. Tom Leighton, CEO and co-founder of Akamai, in the company press release. “Akamai and MUFG are committed to delivering innovative solutions that can better serve customers and their payment processing needs.” 

MUFG had previously experimented with Akamai’s high-speed network and distributed computing technology. According to a MUFG press release, the highly scalable throughput of the new payment network stems from “the speed of consensus decision-making between the nodes that make up the blockchain,” enabled by positioning all nodes responsible for consensus decision-making on the Akamai Intelligent Platform. 

“MUFG and Akamai verified that by using this new blockchain technology under realistic business conditions,” Akamai’s platform was capable of processing transactions in less than two seconds, processing one million transactions per second. According to MUFG, “there is also potential to further develop this processing ability, [potentially] permitting the handling of 10 million transactions per second.”

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