Stellar, the open blockchain platform and non-profit payment protocol has unveiled a slew of new partners including, notably, India’s largest private bank by consolidated assets ICICI, to bring low-cost, near instantaneous remittance solutions in India, the Philippines, Africa and Europe.
Announced yesterday, Stellar revealed four new partners in some of the largest remittance markets in the world. Indian bank ICICI; Philippines-based financial inclusion-focused Fintech startup Coins.ph; pan-African Fintech firm Flutterwave which is notably plugged into the popular M-Pesa network; and French remittance provider Tempo Money Transfer, a licensed money transfer operator in Europe, have all joined the Stellar blockchain platform.
“These organizations coming onboard means that their customers will be able to move money from France to Nigeria to Kenya to India in real-time and securely,” the announcement read.
The new partnerships could have a telling and timely impact, particularly in India, a country still trying to find its feet following an unprecedented cash-freeze due to its government’s recent demonetization drive.
ICICI Bank is already integrating with the Stellar blockchain network the announcement added, leading up to the launch of a mobile wallet application powered by Stellar. This mobile app will see a rollout among university and office campuses around the country and could prove immensely successful at a time when daily bank withdrawals of physical cash are still restricted in India, nearly a month after the announcement of the demonetization.
Raj Chowdhury, head of the bank’s ‘Blockchain Initiative’ sees Stellar’s blockchain as an automated solution to establish trust without the need for an intermediary.
In statements, he said:
With blockchain technology, we are able to conduct business seamlessly with parties with which we had no prior relationships…This technology is enabling us to conduct business a lot quicker and cheaper with low error rates and lower vulnerability to cyber threats.
ICICI has notably piloted a previous blockchain project in partnership with the Middle East’s largest private bank, Emirates NDB. Developed by a subsidiary of Indian IT giant Infosys, the blockchain platform saw two successful transactions – a remittance transfer and a trade finance transaction, between India and Dubai.
In joining the Stellar blockchain platform, ICICI is tapping into a proven blockchain platform with industry expertise, one that could significantly shape the future of banking in a country with over a billion people.
We envision blockchain technology playing a key role in banking in the years ahead.
As the largest inward remittance market in the world, India is ripe for blockchain-based money transfers. ICICI’s membership with the Stellar platform could offer further incentive for other regional and international financial institutions to join the network, enabling low-cost, near-instant remittance between members on the network.
Meanwhile, Philippines-based financial services provider Coins.ph has already seen its integration with Stellar go live, allowing for money transfers to anyone in the Philippines with a Stellar wallet from any other financial institution plugged into the Stellar blockchain, anywhere in the world.
In Africa, Flutterwave will make use of Stellar to support cross-border payments for popular mobile money transfer platform M-Pesa. This move will allow 21 million M-Pesa users – currently restricted to transacting within Kenya – to send money between Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria.
Stellar was first announced in late 2014 as a node consensus network and sees similarities with the Ripple blockchain platform and currency.
Images from Shutterstock.