Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group plans to introduce a digital currency to be used for remittances and payments in March, English-language Asian media Nikkei reports Dec. 26.

According to the article, the fees that the retail shops will be required to pay for accepting the currency will be significantly lower than the fees charged for credit card usage. The transfer of funds back and forth between the digital wallet and the bank account will reportedly be free, as will be sending funds to other users.

Furthermore, according to Nikkei, the bank brought “about 60 regional banks on board” to promote cashless payments. Moreover, regional banks will reportedly be able to provide the service under a common name, which hasn’t been established yet.

The currency will reportedly be managed by a dedicated smartphone app, and the payments will be made using QR codes. The token will be a stablecoin fixed at a price of 1 yen per unit, Nikkei writes.

Mizuho Financial Group is a public banking holding company that reported 1.45 trillion yen of revenue in 2017, equivalent to over $13 billion. The virtual currency is the result of the development of J-Coin, announced in September 2017 by Mizuho.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth-largest bank, will also launch its own digital currency: MUFG coin.

In regard to crypto legislation within Japan, the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering placing cryptocurrencies into a dedicated legal category called “crypto-assets” to prevent confusion with legal tender.

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Bitcoin users’ ability to send transactions through outer space has just been given a boost.

Blockchain technology firm Blockstream announced Monday that it has expanded its satellite service to the Asia-Pacific region. It’s also added support for lightning network transactions, allowing users to pay for its service using the “layer 2” scaling solution.

The company first launched Blockstream Satellite in August 2017, which lets bitcoin users transfer bitcoin through leased satellites. Initially, users in Africa, Europe and the Americas were able to utilize the system. At the time, CEO Adam Back said the service was aimed at individuals with limited internet access or who otherwise face issues accessing bitcoin.

In the months since launch, response to the service has been positive, he told CoinDesk Monday.

“There are third-party developers that have taken an interest to build local infrastructure using the satellite service, for example connecting it with mesh networks to make bitcoin more accessible in emerging markets,” Back said, regarding applications using the service.

The addition of an API integrating the lightning network apparently came after users expressed interest in sending bitcoin-related data.

Back said:

“Lightning adds privacy due to its use of onion routing, and off-chain netting; and lightning better supports micropayments that are lower transaction cost, faster and more scalable. These are advantages for retail and web API use-cases generally, and help make the satellite data API service efficient and connect in with other bitcoin-related infrastructure.”

Back was unable to share any user statistics, due to the fact that Blockstream Satellite uses passive receiver technology.

To use the service, users need a small satellite dish – TV satellite receivers work fine – that’s connected by USB to a personal computer or a piece of dedicated computer hardware such as a Raspberry Pi. Free, open-source software, such as GNU Radio, can be used for managing the connection.

“Recipients can receive bitcoin data without their [internet service provider] being able to see the transactions,” Back explained.

The service itself has demonstrated “excellent” up-time, and the network includes redundancies to ensure reliability.

“The system is designed to auto-recover from a 24-hour outage in user equipment, by continuous retransmission of recent data as well as live data,” he said.

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Church’s Chicken, an international fast-food franchise known its hand-battered fried chicken, has reportedly partnered with Dash Venezuela to become the first fast-food franchise to accept cryptocurrencies throughout its locations in Venezuela.

According to a press release, a strategic alliance between Dash Venezuela and Church’s Chicken Venezuela will see 13 establishments start accepting the privacy-centric cryptocurrency as payment, after “extensive and rigorous days of training” to understand cryptocurrencies.

Church’s Chicken is the fourth largest chicken fast-food fain in the world, as it has 1,700 restaurants spread throughout 25 countries. Per the release, the franchise’s representatives in the country are looking to promote the cryptocurrency as part of the move. The press release reads:

“Representatives of the franchise, indicated that soon will develop a series of promotions to encourage the use of Dash in their establishments, which are added to the more than 2,200 establishments in Venezuela that have this fast and easy mode of transactions.”

Orlando Nayas, the director general of Church’s Chicken Venezuela, noted that he worked hard with the cryptocurrency advocacy group to train the franchise’s staff to accept crypto payments. He added the move “goes to show that we trust Dash and that it will become a growth agent in this new financial world.”

Bradley Zastrow, the global director of business development ad Dash Core, commented the community did an “incredible job” encouraging the cryptocurrency’s growth in Venezuela and that the Church’s Chicken integration is “exciting.”

KFC Venezuela Denies Report it Accepts Dash

The announcement notably comes shortly after Antonio Sampaya, the CEO of KFC Venezuela, revealed the fast-food chain isn’t accepting Dash payments in the near future, directly denying claims made by Dash proponents that it would.

Sampayo, speaking to Spanish news outlet Critponotícias, revealed that testing crypto payments was indeed being discussed, but that nothing had been finalized. He added publications about a potential partnership weren’t authorized.

Dash Merchant Venezuela, an organization promoting the crypto’s adoption in the country, later on tweeted out a public apology to KFC Venezuela.

Per the tweet, the announcement “was premature and reflected our optimism instead of the actual state of our conversation with KFC Venezuela.” Talks between the cryptocurrency’s representatives in the country and KFC Venezuela are reportedly still ongoing. CCN reached out to Sampayo for comment but hadn’t heard back at press time.

As CCN reported, Alejandro Echeverria, the co-founder of Dash Merchant Venezuela and Dash Text – an SMS-based cryptocurrency transaction service that doesn’t require a smartphone or internet – hopes Dash will have 10,000 merchants accepting it next year.

In Venezuela, fast-food chains that have accepted Dash at least one location include Subway and the Papa John’s pizza chain.

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Birks Group, one of the oldest luxury jewelry retailers in Canada, is now accepting bitcoin payments at some stores.

The firm announced Tuesday that it has partnered with U.S.-based bitcoin payments processor BitPay to enable “faster, easier and more secure” purchases for customers.

Currently, bitcoin payments are enabled at eight of the group’s stores, located at Vancouver West Hastings, Brinkhaus Calgary, Fairview Mall, Bloor, Yorkdale, Montreal and Calgary, out of 26 that it operates across Canada.

Some of the brands that are available for purchase through bitcoin are Rolex, Bulgari, Cartier and Breitling, the firm said. Its two recently launched stores in Vancouver, Graff and Patek Philippe, are also expected to accept the cryptocurrency in the near future.

“As an internationally growing brand, we believe that BitPay will benefit our customers as we look to align ourselves with these innovative capabilities that are on the forefront of technology,” Birks Group president and CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos said.

The firm added that this is BitPay’s “first major implementation” of its point-of-sale solution in the Canada.

“Accepting bitcoin helps Birks Group to cater to their high-end international clients and get new customers while providing an innovative and safe payment option,” said Sonny Singh, BitPay’s chief commercial officer.

The news marks Birks as the latest jewelry seller to accept bitcoin for goods. As early as 2014, U.S-based jewelry chain REEDS Jewelers started accepting bitcoins both at its online marketplace and over 60 stores across the country, through a partnership with Coinbase.

Last year in December, APMEX, one of the largest online gold dealers, also started accepting bitcoin, again through BitPay. And most recently, Pennsylvania-based Marks Jewelers partnered with e-commerce platform Shopping Cart Elite to accept crypto payments, including bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum and litecoin.

This post is credited to coindesk