B2B Payments

Investments, Blockchain Dominate Payments Infrastructure Headlines

If dog days of summer are upon us, payments infrastructure deals and initiatives show little torpor from the heat.

To that end, PPRO Group, based in the United Kingdom and operating as a cross-border ePayments firm, said in the beginning of the week that it had received a $50 million in an investment round led by PayPal. In its own release, PayPal stated it had been joined by firms, including returning investor HPE Growth Capital and Citi Ventures, in that funding round.

PPRO, for its part, stated that it will use the money to expand its payments platform, including the international presence of its alternative payments-acquiring operations. PayPal said the funding comes on the heels of an agreement with PPRO that will provide a range of payment options for PayPal’s merchant roster, which in turn expands the choices consumers have when making their payments across borders.

PayPal and PPRO said the investment is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Citi stated this week that it has launched Citi Payment Insights, which is seeks to give the firm’s institutional base real-time payments data, along with the opportunity to facilitate payments on demand through the CitiDirect BE electronic banking platform. Clients are able to gain holistic views of transactions, tied in part to transparency efforts via SWIFT’s gpi initiative, Big Data and APIs. The company said that Royal Dutch Shell is among the early adopters of the banking platform. Management of Shell said that adoption of the platform dovetails with the energy firm’s Cash Management 2020 strategy.

Blockchain: The New(ish) Kid On The Payments Infrastructure Block

No discussion of payments infrastructure would be complete without discussion of blockchain, especially as a conduit of enterprise payments.

Also earlier this week, Oracle debuted its blockchain offering for businesses, which provides firms with both the software and backbone via infrastructure that lets companies set up blockchain networks. The blockchain(s) can then be used to conduct activities, such as supply chain management and tracking the shipment of goods. Fortune had stated at the time that Oracle has been in the midst of piloting that blockchain project, where the pilot had been months in the making. Early adopters include solar firms, the Jordan Investment Bank (with an eye on electronic funds transfers) and food companies.

On another note, payments industry juggernaut American Express is furthering its efforts in the blockchain arena. The company filed a patent that focuses on proof-of-payment technology, which was filed earlier in the month. The patent includes transaction amounts and merchant identifiers that can be linked to public keys, encrypted and stored on blockchains. By way of example, the firm gave the illustration of a digital wallet being used for payments, and a mobile device being used to unlock a hotel room or the door of a rental property.

Beyond the confines of individual company efforts, in examining the potential for payments using blockchain to underpin those transactions, Thailand’s central bank is mulling blockchain as a means to a payments end. Various publications have reported that the Bank of Thailand Governor Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob has stated that blockchain may be used to manage its own supply chain (vendor) payments relationships, along with document management activities. The governor also stated that blockchain can be useful in protecting data.

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