In the continuing swirl of headlines that seem to blur and blend cryptos, blockchains and developing nations, a number of collaborations between large tech firms, traditional financial institutions (FIs) and FinTech upstarts stood out.
In the late-August, computer manufacturing company IBM said it debuted a blockchain-based payment system, with offerings that enable cross-border transactions. That system is called World Wire and is to be run on the Stellar network. The firms said benefits “include faster payment processing (simultaneous clearing and settlement), lower costs, increased efficiency, and simplified payment and asset type form of transaction. With 97 percent of the world’s largest banks as clients of IBM, there remains little doubt that their new flagship payments system won’t be heavily advertised to their existing customer and client base.”
The linkup is being billed as one that lets financial firms settle cross-border payments in a matter of seconds.
To that end, LumoXchange, a FinTech with an emphasis on payments, also said late in August that it launched its money transfer service focused on the Philippines. As reported by Crowdfund Insider, the firm’s platform allows users to compare exchange rates for cross-border payments. The platform has had support and collaboration from the likes of the Development Bank of the Philippines, and has bank partners such as Banco de Oro (BDO) and Land Bank of the Philippines. The latter is a government-owned bank.
Payments Initiatives In Africa
Separately, Finserve, a wholly owned subsidiary of Equity Group, announced its launch in August and is offering the Jenga API and Jenga Payment Gateway. As noted on BitcoinKE, the gateway is geared toward helping businesses plug into “a more robust” payment infrastructure that spans several countries — and allows businesses to accept payments into their corporate accounts. The gateway can accept payments from more than 180 countries. As for the API, developers can integrate FinTech services into apps and platforms, with mobile money offerings across six African countries and integrated platforms that let firms manage accounts, send money and conduct know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML)-related activities.
As the Finserve example illustrates, Africa continues to be an area of focus for revamped payments infrastructure.
Kenya, for instance, is on track to launch a blockchain cryptocurrency geared toward the logistics industry, known as TMX Global. That initiative focuses in part on streamlining activities in the import/export sector. According to allAfrica reports, in an interview with TMX CEO Anthony Njoroge, complaints mark the logistics industry, as firms report a loss of property during import activities. Blockchain technology, he said, may boost transparency between trading firms.
“We are using blockchain technology to enhance cargo logistics business to have [a] more open, transparent and democratic process using a decentralized system, where all the users are able to talk to each other on an open platform,” Njoroge said.
The blockchain offers rails through which import firms will be able to find online stores across several thousand options, enlist the services of freight forwarders and track documentation between businesses. The first part of the initiative will be completed at the end of September and should be fully available by May 2018, allAfrica reported.
The logistics-focused blockchain news comes in the wake of reports that Kenyan banks are looking to gain regulatory approval to enlist the aid of blockchain, to both facilitate payments and aid in developing credit scoring models. The Kenyan central bank said in an August report that there are risks involved in embracing distributed ledger technology (DLT) — among them, the risk of fraud.
As the bank said in its report, “There is, thus, the need to ensure that robust controls are in place to ensure that the risks and opportunities associated with emerging technologies are balanced.”