Blockchain: In-house currency stimulates communication

Mizuho Digital Transformation

January 27, 2023


Experimenting with blockchain technology through a new in-house currency system


The first challenge: Developing and testing an in-house currency using still-experimental technology

In recent years, digital currency has been a topic of much discussion. While many different types have seemingly come and gone, with, perhaps, the exception of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the underlying platform, in many cases blockchain, remains. But what is it, exactly? 

Blockchain technology refers to a database that cannot be overwritten once data is entered into it. In contrast to a centralized database, managed by a single entity, this form of database management is decentralized and open to oversight by all those using the particular blockchain. In short, it secures the data from any possible efforts of tampering, as the data is self-policed to ensure integrity. With this high-level security aspect, blockchain has attracted much attention across a variety of fields beyond crypto assets to include investments, elections, digital art NFTs, and healthcare. However, blockchain technology is still in its infancy globally. 

Mizuho-DL Financial Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Mizuho-DL FT”) has researched blockchain technology. One of the initiatives that it has launched is the Thank You token, an in-house currency that serves as a communication tool for employees. 


Creating a practical and useful system: Taking care to make something that employees would naturally want to use

The in-house Thank You token currency is being used on a trial basis within Mizuho-DL FT. Based on blockchain’s compatibility with financial systems, such as proprietary payment systems, the development of the Thank You token began in late October 2020, and began trial usage two months later, with the tokens still being used today. The tokens are issued as a currency that can be used only within Mizuho-DL FT. Distributed separately from an employee’s salary, the currency aims to motivate employees and stimulate communication. The specific mechanism is very simple: when an employee wants to thank another employee, they write a message on the special Thank You token website which then sends the message with a token to the recipient. Recipients and senders are able to accumulate tokens that can be exchanged for candy items, showcasing a fun way to see visible results. 

A consistent design feature of the Thank You token is the casual and spontaneous nature of the exchange. As the main goal of the project is to improve the practicality and usefulness of blockchain technology, Mizuho-DL FT aimed to create a system that could be used and verified by as many people as possible in a natural way. 


Happy surprise: Communication among employees stimulated by Thank You tokens

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, communication among employees became difficult with the transition to remote work and the halting of after-hours social events at many companies, including Mizuho DL-FT. However, the Thank You token, which was launched at the end of 2020, has helped revitalize communication not only within departments but also across the entire organization as a whole. Employees have sent tokens to express their gratitude for help received during daily office work, improvements in operations, and special efforts that facilitate the smooth operation of their department. In fact, one employee at the General Affairs Department commented: “I never had a chance to interact with or express my appreciation to employees at other departments before, but now I can thank them by sending tokens, so I can interact with them more easily than before.” The system sends tokens to the senders as well as the recipients of the initial tokens. The more that an employee uses the system, the more tokens they accumulate, encouraging each employee to look for the good in others and to recognize and encourage development of others’ strengths.


For an easier and better life in the future: Continuing R&D into blockchain to explore a variety of possibilities

It is expected that blockchain technology will have uses far beyond financial services. Its secure data management protection is of great interest to several industries such social networking, data storage, digital authentication, virtual governments, and healthcare information. Blockchain technology has the potential to become an indispensable infrastructure that bridges the digital world and the real world. Just as cryptocurrencies and digital art are giving birth to new sensibilities, it is conceivable that the systems we take for granted today will be replaced by new ones in the future. Mizuho-DL FT will continue to implement pilot projects using blockchain technology, with the aim of developing new services and platforms that will make the world easier to live in and more enriching.

Text and photographs: Mizuho DX Editorial Department


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