Japan’s blockchain startup ZBB ties up with employee perks provider, promotes in-house currency for companies

Junichi Horiguchi taking the stage at the first Demo Day of the MUFG FinTech Accelerator in August 2016.
Image credit: Masaru Ikeda

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based Zerobillbank Japan (ZBB) develops and provides the ZBB Core platform and the ZBB Mobile Wallet, helping companies issue and manage their own corporate currency as well as promoting their employees to use them.

The company announced on Monday that it has partnered Benefit One (TSE:2412), a leading provider of corporate welfare services in Japan, to integrate the ZBB Core platform with the latter’s the Incentive Point system in March. The Incentive Point system allows member companies to give points to employees who have achieved excellent results, which the employees can then exchange for about 20,000 items (perks), including restaurant vouchers and movie and theater tickets. In the companies using the ZBB Core platform and Benefit One’s Incentive Point system, this partnership allows the employees to exchange the corporate currency with other employees as well as trade it for services.

By making full use of ZBB’s features, this system fully digitizes the process of granting rewards and the detection process that acts as a trigger. For example, by using GPS-based location function it is possible to detect whether employees are leaving on time, or through the use of IoT terminals companies can monitor whether assignments are submitted on the due date, making it is possible to automatically issue corporate currency to the target employees.

Image credit: ZBB

There are two keywords behind ZBB’s launch of this service, the redefinition of a value chain and the prosperity of a token economy. Three assets indispensable for business – people, goods, and capital – are changing drastically in recent years. These elements have become mutually connected to the Internet, and due to the unbundling of services and products as well as trends in human resource shortages and work style reforms as a result of the decrease in the working population, the value chain of a company cannot be completed within one company or in one supply chain.

The three above-mentioned assets will be shared over the barrier between companies, forcing companies to change their traditional management style which had been pursuing oligopoly and profit in the market by eliminating competition. Naturally, the motivation of people working in companies will also change. Perhaps this will constitute the largest shift in paradigms since the Industrial Revolution or, conceivably, in the history of the capitalist economy. ZBB may not provide an immediate answer to these changes with the latest service, but it will certainly be a foothold in creating a new economic system.

In the future, ZBB will introduce SaaS-based digital asset management solutions “DDAM (Distributed Digital Asset Management)” including ZBB Core and ZBB Wallet for enterprises and consortia seeking digital transformation. Within the year the company plans to specialize in issuing solutions for corporate currency, also apparently looking at replacing conventional functions in companies such as employee stock ownership with digital solutions.

Junichi Horiguchi, previously of IBM Singapore, founded ZBB in Tel Aviv, Israel in February 2015 (as Zerobillbank LTD.). In June 2015 the company fundraised $100,000 US from Tokyo-based incubator Samurai Incubate, and by June 2016 it had fundraised from multiple anonymous angel investors. The company was later adopted into the first batch of the MUFG FinTech Accelerator (now known as MUFG Digital Accelerator) and released the Ooiri blockchain-based corporate coin aimed at reducing overtime for Kabu.com Securities, a MUFG company. In 2017, it was selected to participate in the Sotetsu × Takashimaya Acceleration Program, a joint accelerator of a railway company and a department store in Yokohama, Japan, where it released the Zerobill-Contract platform to automate n-to-n commercial transactions and businesses.

Additional Note:

There is room for discussion as to whether to use the term corporate currency or corporate token. With regards to virtual currency, there is the definition that a currency that is handled by exchanges, circulated across a community, and has a perceived value is not a token. (This definition is not unique and the opinion differs depending on the subject of interpretation.) For the purpose of this article, we used the term corporate currency considering that the rewards various companies on the marketplace offer as exchange make it possible to assign a value. This expression is subject to change in the future according to market trends and community awareness.

Translated by Amanda Imasaka
Edited by Masaru Ikeda