Vancouver’s BTL Group Ltd. (TSXV:BTL) is partnering with Visa Europe Collab to explore potential applications for blockchain technology in financial services, using BTL’s cross-border settlement platform, called Interbit.
The pilot project was launched by Visa Europe, with a small number of European banks invited to participate.
“Participating banks will be able to connect to the network and send funds to other banks in the network across multiple currencies,” says Visa Europe Collab co-founder Hendrik Kleinsmiede. “We’ll work closely together on the development and implementation of the PoC, ensuring that all participants come away with new knowledge and insight into the role that the blockchain could play in interbank settlements in the future.”
Interbit, BTL’s cross-border settlement platform, will be used to prove out the ways that blockchain-based settlements can reduce the friction of domestic and cross-border transfers between banks, thereby reducing costs, settlement time, credit risk, not to mention automating most of the regulatory and compliance requirements of domestic and international transfers by using smart contracts.
BTL, the first Canadian blockchain company to be listed on the TSX Venture exchange, generates its technology both in-house and through its own incubator and accelerator programs.
BTL has an office in London, and is known for bringing one of the first Bitcoin ATMs to London.
BTL’s remittance business, a technology platform called Xapcash, can be combined with its proprietary Interbit platform to create a rapid and cost effective “cash-in cash-out” settlement solution between global financial institutions.
The race to develop applications for blockchain technology in cross-border financial transactions is heating up as financial institutions understand the potential efficiencies and cost savings it could generate.
In Calgary this past June, a group of seven banks used Ripple, with technological involvement from Accenture and SAP, to move €666.67 from ATB Financial in Alberta to ReiseBank in Germany, marking the first time that blockchain has been used in a real-world fintech context using actual money, rather than a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, between financial institutions.
That’s only one of a number of recent pilots in the past few months, including one by Hitachi and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), another by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC and the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, as well as by 40-member consortium R3 CEV.
Last week, UBS, Santander, Deutsche Bank and BNY Mellon, the world’s four largest banks, announced a partnership with London-based broker ICAP and technology developer Clearmatics to develop what they hope will become an industry standard for digital cash and blockchain-enabled financial transaction settlements.
The stakes are high. The existing SWIFT system would normally take at least three days to reconcile the Alberta-to-Germany transaction, a process that was shrunk by the blockchain-enabled transfer to about eight seconds.
BTL’s platform is apparently now ready to be used for real bank-to-bank transactions, and could stand to replace the SWIFT system entirely, which currently facilitates the vast majority of banking transactions worldwide.
This will all no doubt be a hot topic at Marketforce’s Blockchain Summit, to be held in London on October 10.