Blockchain Consortium R3 Adds Its First African Member Bank

July 14, 2016 13:56 UTC

The global banking blockchain consortium led by R3 will see its first African member join the ranks in Absa Bank, one of South Africa’s largest banks.

Absa Bank, the South African subsidiary of Barclays Africa has joined the R3-led global blockchain consortium. The group which primarily consists of banks, recently began including non-banking financial institutions.

As the first African member to join the consortium, Absa Bank will be working with over 45 global banking heavyweights in an effort to explore and develop blockchain technology for the financial industry. Furthermore, Absa Bank also revealed that a working group comprised of regional banks will also come together to pioneer the continent’s first ever blockchain-based banking solution.

In statements, Andrew Baker, CIO for corporate and investment banking at Barclays Africa said:

We see huge potential for financial institutions in Africa to embrace disruptive technologies like blockchain, and use them to empower individuals and improve the lives of their customers. However, its true value will only be realized if we work together to co-develop and share solutions to common problems.

Notably, Barclays Africa has already endeavored to explore and test distributed ledger technology in the continent, with several pilot projects already seeing the light of day.

R3 CEO David Rutter stated:

The addition of Absa marks another significant milestone for R3 as we continue to expand the global presence of our consortium. Africa is a key market for us and we look forward to collaborating with Absa to develop distributed and shared ledger technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the infrastructure across global financial markets.

Since the turn of the year, the R3 consortium is decidedly seeing new members from countries that aren’t traditionally seen economic superpowers.

For instance, Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco, the largest private sector bank in Latin America joined the banking blockchain group in April this year. It was the first Latin American bank to do so. Since then, Banco Bradesco – one of Brazil’s largest banking and financial services firms and the largest bank in Brazil by assets, also became a member. In May 2016, the group saw its first-ever Chinese member, in the Ping An Financial Services Group, China’s second-largest insurer and the largest financial entity that isn’t state-owned, in the country.

The most recent member, along with Banco Bradesco, is the financial subsidiary of automobile giant Toyota Motors, Toyota Financial Services. The addition is peculiar if only because it counts as the first automotive finances firm to join the group otherwise comprised of mainstream banks and financial corporations. Still, Toyota Financial Services’ global chief officer for financial innovation, Chris Ballinger, believes that blockchain applicability will benefit the automotive industry entirely, beyond automotive finance alone.

“[W]e believe additional applications of the technology in auto manufacturing and sales will benefit our customers by making mobility more affordable and available,” Ballinger stated.

The group, now counting over 50 global members, will see them share a common space at R3’s Lab and Research Center where prototypes and new pilot solutions are tested.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified: July 14, 2016 13:58 UTC

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