Microsoft is partnering with pan-African digital payments and commerce firm Interswitch Group to develop a blockchain-powered supply chain finance solution for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Nigeria.
Reports in PM NEWS Nigeria on Monday (Nov. 5) said the collaboration will connect financial institutions (FIs) with corporates on a digital platform to offer a seamless trade finance experience for both ends of the transaction. The solution, dubbed the Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain Finance Module), was developed on the Microsoft Azure Blockchain infrastructure to promote security and compliance of the platform.
Interswitch said it hopes to accelerate the time it takes for SMBs in the country to access supply chain finance from FIs that will participate on the platform, including United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank. The two companies added that the platform will act as a “single source of truth” for lenders, as well as suppliers looking to connect with corporate partners.
“In our 15 years of operation, we have experienced the bottlenecks associated with the existing corporate-based financing infrastructure in Nigeria,” said Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch group managing director and CEO, in a statement. “This is why we are happy to partner with Microsoft, by leveraging the advanced technology of the Microsoft Azure Blockchain, to prove the possibility of building a distributed ledger that is practical, viable and has the propensity to solve some of Nigeria’s most difficult financial and logistic problems.”
In another statement, Microsoft Azure Blockchain Principal Program Manager Michael Glaros said the initiative is Nigeria’s first enterprise-grade blockchain solution.
“The blockchain technology is still in its infancy in Nigeria and we are happy to pioneer its development in partnership with Interswitch, an innovative and forward-looking company, which has evolved its business around financial technology,” he said.
Its partnership with Microsoft follows Interswitch’s linkup with Visa, announced last year. That deal focuses on digital banking and mobile payments, helping banks to upgrade their mobile banking apps and aiding merchants to accept mVisa payments.