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There are a few schools of thought when it comes to the projected role and impact of blockchain technology on the global financial services space.
On one side, some believe blockchain will disrupt the traditional banking system to the point of fracture, enabling the movement of money without the involvement of a financial institution.

Others, meanwhile, believe the blockchain can help banks enter into a new era of financial services, and this school of thought has led to the creation of internal blockchain exploration programs within the banks themselves.

But there has also been a significant increase in collaborative relationships between FIs and blockchain startups, presumably as traditional financial services attempt to get a leg-up on any possible threat that this disruption could place on their market share.

Stellar Cofounder and CTO Jed McCaleb has been front and center in this whirlpool of anxiety, excitement and speculation over the future of blockchain and what that means for the future of banks. The Stellar payment network offers an open-source protocol for payments, providing a rail for other institutions to build their own solutions.

“Almost every bank on the planet now has their blockchain exploration division,” McCaleb recently told PYMNTS about the rise of banks’ partnerships with blockchain innovators like Stellar. “They definitely see the writing on the wall that the world is moving in this direction.”
But the roadmap for blockchain’s role within the financial institution is hardly clear.

In addition to considerations like future regulatory constrictions on the tool, banks, despite their efforts, are sometimes in the dark about how this whole blockchain thing will work.

Marketforce, Pegasystems and Cognizant recently released a report that found more than one-third of financial services companies have never even heard of blockchain. An additional 23 percent said they had heard of the term but were unsure of how it worked.
McCaleb explained that he, too, has seen the struggle among FIs to truly grasp the concept.

“I think what’s tough for them is figuring out which of these technologies is real and which works and is solid,” he said. “There are so many options out there; it’s hard to know and understand what they need and what actually works.”

While McCaleb said that this lack of understanding has been the “biggest hurdle” for this space, he also noted that it may be a problem for the banks themselves to work out.

“On their side, trying to understand this space, they’ve been struggling with that the most,” he said of FIs. “But I think all of them understand the power of these kinds of blockchain solutions.”

Compliance is another issue that may likely land on the laps of financial institutions when it comes to adopting blockchain-based solutions. While regulatory constraints on the space have yet to arise, if blockchain is to disrupt the banking sector as many think it will, financial institutions will carry the burden of maintaining compliance.

That’s already a struggle for banks today, research says.

The Financial Executives Research Foundation and Robert Half released a joint report last month that found the cost of compliance among financial services players is on the rise, and the majority of these firms expect those costs to rise towards the end of the decade.

Protecting the funds and the data behind transactions completed via distributed ledger technology will surely be front and center with regulators at some point. Earlier this year, the chair of the International Organization of Securities Commissions, Greg Medcraft, told reporters that authorities will be eyeing blockchain and its capabilities in fraud detection.

Compliance may be key for any bank, but Stellar‘s McCaleb said that he hasn’t seen much worry among FIs regarding the security of payments made via blockchain.

“Everyone has concerns about technology in general,” he noted. “They want to know how it works and be assured that it’s safe and secure.”
Like getting educated on the technology and maintaining regulatory compliance, however, McCaleb said it’s largely up to the banks to keep transactions secure.

“It’s up to them on how to handle that kind of stuff,” he explained of banks ensuring that payments are legitimate and secure before a transaction is carried out.

Clearly, there are a lot of factors that financial institutions need to keep track of when working with blockchain, whether it be through developing their own solutions and experiments internally or working with a blockchain partner. The burden may be high, but according to McCaleb, financial institutions may not be able to afford to ignore the integration of distributed ledger tech.

But the biggest threat to banks in this evolution isn’t blockchain, said McCaleb. It could be other banks.

“Banking in general is not going to go away; people still want to put their money somewhere that’s safe, people still need loans, banks still provide services — none of that is taken away by things like blockchain,” he stated. “I think one of the things that might change is there might be consolidation in the industry.”

“Banks that don’t adapt and modernize, maybe, will be left behind,” he continued. “They might be swallowed up by other banks.”

Read More Read More, Posted by: lumutgunung
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Stellar co-founder Jed McCaleb hit a roadblock in his mission to serve the global underbanked when earlier this month his co-founder resigned, leaving him with her responsibilities, including more frequently engaging with the public.
For a computer programmer whose career has been largely under scrutiny since hefounded defunct bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, the idea of taking on a more public role at Stellar was intimidating. But, he says it was a necessary step for the startup.
After years of building a payments rail system designed to make it cheaper to offer banking services to developing nations, McCaleb said it was time for him to make the case that Stellar should be considered a leading blockchain platform for enterprise customers.

McCaleb told CoinDesk:
Quote:"We've spent the past two years building a product, and now we're showing it to the world."
Founded in 2014 after McCaleb and his then-girlfriend and co-founder Kim left another startup he founded, Ripple, the two companies have always been equated in the blockchain community, despite their differing business models.
Stellar has raised a little over $3m from Stripe to build a new distributed ledger payments rail similar to Ripple’s, but aimed specifically at serving clients in developing nations.
In contrast, Ripple has raised more than $38m from investors as diverse as Andreessen Horowitz and Santander.

Barclays in South Africa
In his first public appearance, McCaleb spoke onstage at the Exponential Finance conference with Barclays Africa's CEO of corporate and investment banking, Stephen van Coller.
In interview with CoinDesk, van Coller described how his company is testing its prototype on the Stellar payments rail at a high school in Johanessburg, South Africa. About 100 students aged 16-years-old to 18-years-old are currently testing a minimum viable product (MVP) designed so feature phones can be used to pay for goods.
To be profitable in Africa, where the margins per customer are small, van Coller says they’ll need to be able to reach massive scale, serving customers that conduct few transactions, for smaller amounts than in more developed regions.
Coller said that to reach such efficiency his team searched for a scalable service that didn’t use existing payments rails "because that’s where the cost is today".
But even with a streamlined onboarding process and more efficient back-end, Coller believes the work with Stellar alone won’t be enough to serve Africa’s unbanked population.
Coller said he is currently in conversations with other financial institutions interested in financial inclusion.
"Our belief is that this needs to be an open platform, rather than run by just a single bank," he said. "Every government should be building this. They should be building cheap payment rails within their country."

Wholesale with Deloitte
But, Barclays isn't the only bank interested in Stellar.
In May, consulting firm Deloitte announced that it was using the startup's technology to build a blockchain-based service for a bank outside of North America, but it didn’t share the name of the bank or in which region it is based.

In conversation, Deloitte Digital principal Gys Hyman revealed more about how his company has worked with Stellar to build a prototype for retail transactions. Specifically, Hyman said Deloitte is using the Stellar payments rail to build a prototype aimed at wholesale transactions that must reliably move with additional information, including invoice numbers and tracking numbers.

Throughout the construction of the prototypes, Stellar’s role has changed, according to Hyman.

While Stellar played a very hands-on roll during the creation of the retail prototype, Hyman said the startup is now more involved with oversight and quality assurance.

Hyman says there are now other customers, "mainly banks" with which he is currently in discussions, adding:
Quote:“From a Stellar integration point, we’re ready. If a customer were to come to us tomorrow, we’re ready.”

One country at a time
As part of his increasing presence in the public eye, McCaleb has spent the past two weeks touring around Nigeria to visit with partners and demonstrate the new technology.

Otherwise, he said the company's strategic plans are unchanged.

In May, Stellar published a company "roadmap" for how it plans to achieve its goal of serving theroughly 2.2 billion people in Africa currently without adequate banking services, one country at a time.

"We're mainly focused on Nigeria because I think it’s important to start in one particular region and achieve ubiquity there," said McCaleb. "Because we’re starting a network and you need to be able to send money to people you know."

The first phase of the roadmap, to build a codebase for developers, was completed last November. The second phase, to integrate with money services providers licensed in each nation, was formalized on Tuesday with a challenge aimed specifically at attracting banks and licensed money-service transmitters.

The third phase is to bring the product to end users.

McCaleb told CoinDesk that this means Stellar will continue to eschew the sort of high-value, developed market use cases that have attracted his peers in the blockchain space.
He concluded:
Quote:"I think that one of the most powerful things that this technology is going to do for the world is actually get everybody into the same financial network."

Read More Read More, Posted by: lumutgunung
ICICI Bank and three other financial services platforms have partnered with Stellar cryptocurrency platform to enable blockchain based fund transfer. Read more...
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The Indian fintech sector has lately been in the news a lot. In yet another milestone achievement, one of the leading banking institution — ICICI has partnered with Stellar blockchain platform.
In the latest release, Stellar has announced partnerships with not one but four different entities across the world. In addition to ICICI Bank, other platforms include Coins.ph — a Philippines-based mobile financial services provider; Flutterwave — a pan-African financial platform; and Tempo Money Transfer — a French remittance service provider.
All the four companies will be using Stellar platform to power transactions on their network and beyond. ICICI Bank has announced plans to use Stellar network to support both domestic and international money transfer.  As a pilot program, ICICI Bank is expected to launch a Stellar based cross-border payment channel minus the conventional wire transfer fees. In addition, the banking major has also expressed its intention to create a mobile wallet platform based on cryptocurrency technology for use in university and office campuses.

Quote:[color=rgba(51, 51, 51, 0.701961)]“With blockchain technology, we are able to conduct business seamlessly with parties with which we had no prior relationships. Blockchain platforms such as Stellar.org are providing us with an automated technology solution to establish trust without the need for an intermediary… enabling us to conduct business a lot quicker, cheaper with lower error rates and lower vulnerability to cyber threats. It is helping us eradicate the need for post-transaction settlements which are cumbersome and expensive. We envision blockchain technology playing a key role in banking in the years ahead.”[/color]

Similar to ICICI, Coins.ph’s service will enable people to make domestic transfers to phone numbers or accounts within the Philippines. With Flutterwave and Stellar, M-Pesa users in African nations will be able to make fund transfers within and beyond borders. And Tempo Money Transfer will offer remittance services for European customers, enabling them transfer funds across the globe through institutions connected via Stellar.
These strategic partnerships are a two-way street where all parties involved will benefit mutually.

Read More Read More, Posted by: lumutgunung
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A man counts Somali shilling notes having just exchanged U.S. dollars with a money changer on the streets of Mogadishu. 

High-tech advances such as cyber currency bitcoin and its blockchain transfer technology are creating opportunities to modernize the way vital remittances are transferred across borders, but strict banking regulations and banks’ unwillingness to work in “risky” sectors threaten to make it more difficult for many to send money home, experts say.

The Sustainable Development Goals have recognized the key importance of remittances for global development. Goal 10 includes reducing the average cost of sending money from the current average of 7.4 percent of the sum being transferred, to below 3 percent.

Money which migrants send back to developing countries now officially totals approximately[url=http://pubdocs.worldbank.org/en/468881473870347506/Migration-and-Development-Report-Sept2016.pdf]$440 billion
 every year, three times higher than official aid flows, according to the World Bank. Experts say the market could actually be worth far more considering the value of transfers which flow through unrecorded channels.

However, currently at least $32 billion in remittances is failing to reach recipients due to high transaction fees associated with sending and receiving money across borders.

Remittances, delivered through informal or formal channels, are credited with reducing poverty and acting as insurance for the poor in developing countries, according to Dilip Ratha, head of Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development at the World Bank. Remittances are often the first form of aid to reach disaster-hit countries. Many money transfer companies waived fees during the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake in 2015, in recognition of that, Ratha said.

Furthermore, remittances are also seen as a key stepping stone to improving financial inclusion by encouraging more people to have bank accounts and through opportunities to link consumer and even small business loans to remittances, Ratha said.

Formal remittances enter a country through official banking channels and specialized money transfer companies, of which Western Union is the biggest. Commercial banks, post offices, credit unions, and niche money transfer companies, also offer formal methods of transferring money.

Informal remittances refer to money transfers which occur through private, unrecorded channels such as cash brought home by friends and relatives, and parallel informal money transfer systems such as “hawala” in South Asia, and “fei ch’ien” in China.

While technological advances and virtual currencies such as bitcoin could hold the key to reducing remittance fees, challenges around regulation and identification issues threaten progress, according to experts convened to discuss remittances during a panel hosted by the World Bank as part of a conference on migration and development hosted in Washington, D.C.

Here are the highlights of the discussion.

1. De-risking is threatening the industry.

De-risking is the single biggest threat facing the remittance industry, according to Mohit Davar, chairman of the International Association of Money Transfer Network, the trade body for the remittance industry. It is “stifling competition and concentrating business on four or five incumbent players,” he said.

De-risking, or de-banking, refers to the practice of financial institutions exiting relationships with, and closing the accounts of, clients perceived to be “high risk,” and there has been a trend toward de-risking entire sectors, including money service businesses. The World Bank found that money transfer operators and other remittance companies are the most affected by de-risking activities.

This trend is in part caused by restrictive anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing regulations which have resulted in increased scrutiny from regulators on the formal and informal financial sectors. Combined with declining risk appetites in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, many financial institutions are choosing not to work in sectors assessed as high-risk, unprofitable, or complicated, including working with money service businesses. This has the effect of diverting remittance payments to informal channels.
While the money transfer system “is not immune to misuse,” Davar said the small size of the average remittance transaction, which is between $200 and $300, makes it “inherently inefficient to use for money laundering.” Unless the de-risking trend changes, the industry will see “money moving back to the informal sector when we worked very hard to move it to the formal sector,” he said.

2. Regulators and banks are behind the times.
The socio-economic profile of immigrants and their needs as customers have changed in recent years according to Kanchan Kumar, the CEO of Remitr, a cross-border foreign currency payment service. In the past, immigrants were low paid, but now they earn more and as a result are looking for new services beyond simply sending cash home. Migrants now want capabilities to transfer bank credits and manage money in more than one country, Kumar said.
Keeping up with the demands of these new customers is difficult when there are regulatory, banking and technology challenges holding money services businesses back, according to Kumar. MSB is a term used by financial regulators to describe businesses that transmit or convert money.
Regulators are failing to embrace more efficient ways of identifying senders, which is one of the biggest regulatory challenges around transferring money. “There are better way to identify a person other than making them walk up to a counter and present their ID and then photocopying it,” Kumar said, but regulators are proving slow to respond.
The remittance industry needs to embrace technology and take advantage of developments which can enhance their services, such as automated identification, real-time transaction scanning, better foreign exchange management, and real-time cross-border settlements, Kumar said. Remitr has adopted these innovations and is bringing the technology to other MSBs, he said.

3. Virtual money and technology platforms can cut costs, increase transparency and save time.

Blockchain technology can be used to reduce the cost of remittances according to chief operating officer of BitPesa, Charlene Chen. BitPesa, which is currently operating in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo, uses blockchain technology to create a global network of “market-makers” who transact with each other transparently on the blockchain database, Chen explained.
Blockchain is best known as the underlying technology behind the virtual currency bitcoin, and it is used by BitPesa as an open source digital ledger, which keeps a constantly updated record of all transactions, making the platform transparent and secure.
BitPesa is able to lower the cost of sending remittances by removing correspondent banks from the transaction chain. A correspondent bank is a financial institution that provides services on behalf of another financial institution. For example, in a BitPesa transaction, BitPesa is able to receive local currency directly which it then sends in bitcoin to a digital broker who then deposits it as local currency in the receiving country. Regular money transfers would involve at least one deposit within a correspondent bank.
The BitPesa method also removes the dependency on the U.S. dollar as a middle currency. Often local currency from one country will need to be changed into dollars before being changed into the final destination currency, which adds on fees. As a result of BitPesa’s innovation, transactions are cheaper for individuals and businesses, with costs of between 1-3 percent, and faster — a transfer which normally takes a week can occur in one day.

4. Greater interoperability in financial services is key.
Some $44.6 billion is the estimated average amount being paid in fees to move money from one country to another, including developed countries, according to according to Lisa Nestor, director of partnerships at Stellar. Stellar is a nonprofit which is “evangelizing a global payment standard” by working directly with financial institutions to make cross border (and domestic) payments more efficient, she explained.
Currently, there are two main ways of moving money; from bank account to bank account, which is the formal way, and through private remittance channels such as Western Union, and both channels are expensive, Nestor explained.  
In a bank account to bank account transfer, for example from the U.S. to Nigeria, money will move from a local bank to a national one, then through several correspondent banks serving the U.S. market. It then travels through SWIFT, the messaging network used by banks and other financial institutions to send and receive information such as money transfer instructions, to a correspondent bank serving the African market, and is eventually delivered to the local bank account on the other side. This process takes several days, accrues several fees along the way, and with many correspondent banks currently de-risking, the process is becoming even more difficult, Nestor said.
Private payment channels are expensive for different reasons, Nestor said. Companies such Western Union need to have a physical presence in multiple locations so that people have a place to send and receive payments, and they also need to manage hundreds of bank accounts around the world in order to facilitate transactions, Nestor explained.
Stellar has been working to realize a more efficient payment system and have leveraged blockchain technology to create a network which financial institutions or payment service providers can utilize in order to pass transactions to any other provider also on that network. The network doesn’t use bitcoin specifically, but institutions can use any assets or currency for exchange.  Once an institution joins the network, it can send payments of any size on behalf of a client in less than 5 seconds and for less than a cent.
The key to the system is “interoperability” Nestor said, the ability for different information technology systems to communicate and exchange data with each other. For example, email service providers have adopted a “common way of talking to each other” which enables customers to send and receive emails from different email providers. Stellar is working to create the same interoperability within financial institutions.

5. The future of remittances?
While Davar thinks new approaches, such as those developed by Remitr and BitPesa, will continue to get traction, he predicts that in the future remittances will be free and no transaction fees will apply.
“In my opinion in the future remittances will be commoditized and become free so nobody makes money on them. The trick will be to monetize the customer through other products such as loans and microfinance, remittances will just be an anchor product,” he said.

Read More Read More, Posted by: lumutgunung
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Stellar is announcing four new partnerships with financial institutions that will enable low cost global money transfers to the Philippines, India and Europe, and cross-border M-Pesa payments to and from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. 
Stellar is a Silicon Valley based nonprofit that supports the Stellar network, a free, open-source network designed to connect diverse financial systems and let anyone facilitate low cost financial services — payments, savings, loans, insurance — for their community. The organization claims that the Stellar network enables money to move directly between people, companies and financial institutions as easily as email, enabling more access for individuals, lower costs for banks, and more revenue for businesses.
Coins.ph, a mobile financial services provider for the underbanked in Southeast Asia, has announced that its Stellar integration is now live. Starting today, people using a Stellar wallet can send global remittances to anyone in the Philippines or from any institution connected to the Stellar network.


Flutterwave, a pan-African financial technology and services company, will use Stellar to support cross-border payments for M-Pesa, a mobile platform for money transfer and financial services used by 21 million people in Kenya. M-Pesa users will now be able to send payments regardless of whether they are based in Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria.


Indian ICICI Bank will use the Stellar network to transfer money within India and internationally. The bank will launch a pilot program on Stellar for cross-border payments without traditional wire fees, as well as a mobile wallet application built on Stellar for university and office campuses. “[Stellar] technology is enabling us to conduct business a lot quicker and cheaper, with lower error rates and lower vulnerability to cyber threats,” said Raj Chowdhury, Head of ICICI Bank’s blockchain initiative.


Tempo Money Transfer, a European-licensed remittance provider headquartered in Paris, is also integrating with the Stellar network. Users can now send remittances through Tempo to Europe, as well as to global financial institutions, such as Coins.ph in the Philippines, which are connected to the Stellar network.


“Coins.ph, ICICI, Flutterwave and Tempo are leading the charge to make blockchain real and bringing the benefits of the software to market” said Jed McCaleb, CTO of Stellar.org. “While they made the decision to integrate with Stellar because of efficiency and cost, these partnerships bring us closer to our goal of making money move as easily as email. This is the start of achieving our mission of enabling a worldwide financial network that anyone can use.”



“A New Global Infrastructure for Payments”


Bitcoin Magazine reached out to McCaleb to ask how Stellar wants to position itself in the fintech area, what makes the Stellar platform uniquely suitable for the remittance sector, and what applications are being envisaging by the Stellar team for other sectors with similar requirements.


“Stellar is an internet level protocol for payments,” McCaleb told Bitcoin Magazine. “The Stellar protocol can be used by any financial institution to easily send money to anyone else on the Stellar network. The Stellar network is open source and overseen by the Stellar Development Foundation, a nonprofit entity. Our goal is to position Stellar as a universally accessible payments standard that can be used by financial institutions, payments providers and people to send money globally. At Stellar, we want sending money to be more like sending email; easy, fast, low cost and accessible to everyone.”


“From the beginning, the Stellar network was designed to serve as a new global infrastructure for payments,” continued McCaleb. “You can think of it as an open source SWIFT-like network that allows connected organizations to transact with one another. As a unifying layer between all payments and currencies, Stellar is able to link siloed financial institutions and services, such as Coins.ph and Tempo, and reduce the friction that contributes to higher fees. Given the diverse nature of global financial services today, this interoperability can substantially lower global remittance costs by making transactions that cross national boundaries, currencies and financial institutions much more efficient. Transactions processed on the Stellar network take only three to five seconds to complete, and are extremely low cost regardless of the size of the payment amount — attributes that make the platform uniquely suitable for international remittances.”


“As an organization, Stellar is focused on creating a solution for payments, particularly international remittances,” McCaleb explained to Bitcoin Magazine. “However, the platform can certainly be used across other sectors. A great example of this would be B2B (business-to-business) payments, particularly for small and medium sized (SME) businesses processing international payments. In addition, B2E (business to employee) and G2C (government-to-consumer) payments are also easy-to-apply use cases for the Stellar network. In the B2B use case example, we are working with several large international development organizations which support or own microfinance banks, and are very interested in developing an effective payments product for their SME customers.”


Quote:
[Image: giulio-prisco.jpg]
by Giulio Prisco
Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that Bitcoin and its underlying technology are about to bring disruptive positive changes to finance, business, and society.

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Rise Vision Foundation Dev Team Introduction Video

Let us take you behind the scenes of the Rise Vision Foundation. The following video presentation includes:
- Lead Developer Justin Donnaruma taking you on a tour of the current office space in Lewiston, Maine
- Introduction of the Rise developers team (Justin Donnaruma, Richard Hooper, Nathanael Burchill)
- Get briefed in the Rise War Room! 
- Learn details about the new Rise Code Base

Participate on the official RISE forum:
http://forum.rise.vision

Join the community at the RISE slack channel:
http://slack.rise.vision

Coming up next week:
We'll be releasing a blog post giving detailed insight into the Developer's screen setups, frameworks and tools used daily for developing the RISE platform. 

Read More Read More, Posted by: san2ok
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Stellar is launching one of the first Blockchain applications which may hold the potential to affect a large number of people outside the digital currency space, through its global money transfernetwork aimed at some of the world's largest remittance markets.
It has been described by CTO Jed McCaleb as an open-source SWIFT-like network that allows connected organizations to transact with one another thus helping to reduce the friction that contributes to higher fees. The platform also connects diverse financial systems with one technical integration.
He says to Cointelegraph:

Quote:“Given the diverse nature of global financial services today, this interoperability can substantially lower global remittance costs by making transactions that cross national boundaries, currencies and financial institutions much more efficient. Transactions processed on the Stellar network take only 3-5 seconds to complete, and are extremely low-cost, regardless of the size of the payment amount, attributes that make the platform uniquely suitable for international remittances.”

Cross-border payments
Stellar has partnered four key institutions to enable low-cost global money transfers to India, the Philippines and Europe as well as cross-border M-PESA payments to and from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. These new partnerships are particularly meaningful to the company because it is one of the first applications to use Blockchain technology to positively impact a large number of people who aren't already entrenched in the digital currency space.
Coins.ph enables individuals to send global remittances to anyone in the Philippines using a Stellar wallet or from any institution connected to its network. In addition, ICICI Bank, India's largest private sector bank, will cater for the Indian market and Tempo Money Transfer will serve 35 countries.
Flutterwave will use the network to support cross-border payments for M-Pesa, a mobile platform for money transfer and financial services used by about 21 mln subscribers in Kenya. The new service will expand users’ ability to send payments regardless of whether they are based in Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria.
According to the World Bank, global remittances to developing countries amounted to $431.6 bln in 2015, and Stellar, with its new remittance service, is targeting new markets. This includes three of the top five remittance receiving countries - India, the Philippines and Nigeria - with a combined market value of more than $118 bln.
The world’s financial infrastructure should function like a public utility
Stellar is a non-for-profit network and operates on the belief that the world’s financial infrastructure is so important that it should function more like a public utility, such as the Internet. In addition, they also believe that it shouldn’t be owned by one for-profit entity and should bring financial services to all, including the underbanked.
McCaleb adds that the Blockchain-based solution will seek to eliminate the need for all intermediaries, allowing consumers and businesses to interact with each other directly as they do via email.
He says to Cointelegraph:

Quote:“One of the most important applications that is generally highlighted about Blockchain technology is its potential to bring financial services to the underbanked.”

However, he underlines that up until this point, the benefits of Blockchain have largely served technologists and the Bitcoin community. With this project, Stellar.org aims to take a collective step forward in fulfilling the promise of using Blockchain technology towards financial inclusion for the 2.5 bln people worldwide who are underbanked.

Read More Read More, Posted by: amega
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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.
[Image: Stellar-Countries.png]
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.
ICICI is Integrating Stellar Within India
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:
Quote: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.
Choudhury added:
Quote: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.

Read More Read More, Posted by: amega
Chinese gamblers and stock traders are nursing their wounds after Macau authorities reversed a decision to limit their daily withdrawals to 5,000 patacas ($626).

MACAU INVESTORS EASILY SPOOKED
The original announcement sent shares in casinos tumbling, Reuters reports, with seasoned gamers also looking at their incomes being strangled.
[img=450x0]http://bitcoinist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/shutterstock_86464969-1024x640.jpg[/img]
Macau, which generates around 40% of GDP from the gambling industry, will nonetheless keep a new ATM transaction limit of 5,000 patacas.
The proposed limits would affect only China UnionPay account holders, it appears, with authorities pointing to a desire to stem “illicit money outflows.”
FAT CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS
Any ATM squeezes would not affect casino patrons wholesale; common practice is to purchase goods then return them and gamble the refund, avoiding withdrawals altogether.
However, the idea that the status quo is under attack was enough to cause panic, especially given otherrecent noises from Chinese authorities about stemming capital outflows.
[img=450x0]http://bitcoinist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/shutterstock_380330923-1024x640.jpg[/img]
The yuan is currently trading at a multi-year low against the dollar.
“The risks of more capital outflow control measures should not be ignored,” analyst Chelsey Tam commented on the Macau aftermath.
Needless to say, the Bitcoin gambling industry has a lot to gain from Chinese market predicaments. The wealth of sites already available could easily combine with Chinese investors’ lust for the cryptocurrency to create an easy alternative to over-regulated fiat gaming.
Last month, it was widely reported that Bitcoin was one of the methods being used by investors to ferret money abroad and out of the slowing Chinese economy.
REMEMBER STELLAR?
Not just Bitcoin, but also alternative Blockchain-based payments system Stellar is being used to expand payments out of China.
Chinese company LeEco, dubbed the ‘Chinese Netflix,’ is seeking to use Stellar’s platform as part of its push into the US market. Stellar will be used as a way of reducing the cost of international payments.
[img=450x0]http://bitcoinist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/stellar.jpg[/img]
“We’re aiming to reduce the cost of capital, improve the efficiency of our operations,” Linhui Gao, senior operations director at LeFinance and founder of the dedicated LeFinance Blockchain Lab, told Wired last week. “We’re widening our influence globally, so cross-border payments is what we need.”
Other operators such as Paris-based payments transfer outfit Tempo are working on introducing Stellar into China in a remittance capacity.
The country currently records around $64 billion worth of remittance payments annually, second only to India and significantly ahead of the third largest global market, the Philippines ($28 million).

Read More Read More, Posted by: amega
[Image: tumblr_inline_ohukc8UBLk1szgadm_1280.jpg]



We’re excited to announce our collaboration with Stellar.org to further our mission of accelerating financial inclusion in Southeast Asia
Stellar.org  is a nonprofit organization that supports the Stellar network, a free, open-source network that connects diverse financial systems and lets anyone build low-cost financial services for their community. 
As a result, soon you will be able to send money to anyone in the Philippines to a Coins.ph wallet via an institution connected to the Stellar network.  

Quote:“Connecting Coins.ph to the Stellar remittance network will allow more Filipinos abroad to have fast, low cost access to remitting funds back home, something we are obviously very excited about.”
- Ron Hose, Co-Founder and CEO of Coins.ph 


Global Money Transfers
Additionally, Stellar today announced partnerships with three more financial institutions that will enable low-cost global money transfers to IndiaEurope and cross-border M-PESA payments to and from KenyaGhana and Nigeria. With one technical integration, these companies have expanded access and decreased costs considerably for their customers:
  • Flutterwave, a cutting-edge pan-African financial technology and services company, will use Stellar to support cross-border payments for M-Pesa, a mobile platform for money transfer and financial services. For the 21 million M-Pesa users who are limited to transacting in Kenya, this move will expand their ability to send payments regardless of whether they are based in Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria. 
  • ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, is integrating with the Stellar network to support money transfers internationally and within India. ICICI is planning to launch a pilot program on Stellar for cross-border payments without traditional wire fees. Additionally, ICICI is launching a mobile wallet application with a Stellar backend, which they will potentially roll out to their entire customer base. 
  • Tempo Money Transfer, a high-tech European licensed remittance provider headquartered in Paris, France, has integrated with the Stellar network. Starting today, people can send global remittances to Europe through Tempo, and to financial institutions, such as Coins.ph in the Philippines, which are connected to the Stellar network.

Soon these financial institutions will be able to transact with each other in 3-5 seconds, without the friction and barriers that contribute to higher fees. A key advantage of the Stellar network is that, with a single integration, financial institutions immediately gain access to all the other institutions on the Stellar network. For example, all the financial institutions on the Stellar network will be able to send money seamlessly to the Philippines through Coins.ph, to India through ICICIand from Europe through Tempo.  

Faster and Frictionless Remittances
The integration with Coins.ph is particularly noteworthy, since overseas Filipino workers around the world sent $26.92 billion back to the Philippines in 2015, making the Philippines the third largest remittance market in the world. In the developing world, a majority of the population is underbanked or unbanked and until now, those sending money to both of these countries were limited to traditional remittance services like Western Union or MoneyGram, which charges steep fees.
In Europe, people will be going online to Tempo’s website (www.tempo.eu.com), or offline to one of the hundreds of authorized Tempo agent locations in Europe to send money to anyone in the Philippines by using the recipient’s name and mobile phone number. Within seconds of the transfer, the recipient will receive an alert on their mobile phone and a Coins.ph account will automatically be created for them. The recipient will be able to claim funds out of their Coins.ph electronic wallet, or by transferring funds directly to their local bank account or by collecting cash at any of 22,000 retail locations across the Philippines, or even by using a card-less ATM withdrawal with special PIN code sent to them from Coins.ph

Quote:“Coins.ph, ICICI, Flutterwave and Tempo are leading the charge to make blockchain real and bringing the benefits of the software to market. While they made the decision to integrate with Stellar because of efficiency and cost, these partnerships bring us closer to our goal of making money move as easily as email. This is the start of achieving our mission of enabling a worldwide financial network that anyone can use.”
- Jed McCaleb, CTO of Stellar.org


About Stellar.org
Stellar.org is a Silicon Valley based nonprofit organization that supports the Stellar network, a free, open-source network that connects diverse financial systems and lets anyone build low-cost financial services—payments, savings, loans, insurance—for their community. The Stellar network enables money to move directly between people, companies and financial institutions as easily as email. This interconnectivity means more access for individuals, lower costs for banks, and more revenue for businesses.
About Coins.ph
Founded in 2014 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson, Coins.ph is Southeast Asia’s leading blockchain-based payments platform that enables anyone, including those without bank accounts, to easily access financial services directly from their phone. UsingCoins.ph, customers have access to a mobile wallet and services such as remittances, airtime, bill payments, and online shopping at over 63,000 merchants who accept digital currency. Operating in the Philippines and Thailand, Coins.ph’s mission is to increase financial inclusion by delivering financial services directly to people through their mobile phones.

About Flutterwave
Flutterwave is a platform as a service for processing any method of payment across African countries. We enable hundreds of millions of dollars in payments across Credit and Debit Cards, Bank Accounts (ACH) and Mobile Money payments for Global Merchants and Pan-African Financial Institutions looking to build cross-border acquiring and disbursement capability across Africa. Flutterwave is a YCombinator company backed by some of Silicon Valley’s most influential investors including Greenvisor Capital, Greycroft, Khosla Impact Ventures, Social Capital Partnership, Western Technology Investments, Omidyar Network, and VC Fintech Accelerator (powered by Fidelity National Information Systems) among others.
About ICICI Bank Ltd
ICICI Bank Ltd (NYSE:IBN) is India’s largest private sector bank with consolidated total assets of US $138.67 billion at March 31, 2016. ICICI Bank’s subsidiaries include India’s leading private sector insurance companies, securities brokerage firms, mutual funds and private equity firms. ICICI Bank’s presence currently spans 17 countries, including India.
About Tempo
Tempo Money Transfer is a technology-driven international payment services provider headquartered in Paris, France, offering both online and offline remittances to more than 100 countries across the globe.  Partnered with numerous local banks and with an extensive authorized agent network in Europe, Tempo is enjoying rapid growth.

Read More Read More, Posted by: amega


Check out this short animated video explaining how money moves on the Stellar network! 

Read More Read More, Posted by: Forum IT
[Image: a1949b2c32bb572c7030dac004c2af03?s=400&d=mm&r=g]
Tom Groenfeldt ,  I write about finance and technology.  
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Sending money to someone in another country should be as easy as sending them an email, says Jed McCaleb, CTO of Stellar.org.
An experienced tech entrepreneur, he started eDonkey2000, a file-sharing program, founded Mt. Gox, which he sold to Mark Karpeles in 2011 and then co-founded Ripple Labs as the company's CTO. He left in disputes that were written up in detail in a number of stories at CoinDesk. McCaleb said he co-founded  Stellar.org because he believes that gaps and outdated infrastructure in the financial system limit the world's economic potential.
“We are trying to be an internet level protocol for payments,” McCaleb said. “There are lots of payment networks, but they don’t interoperate.”
Stellar is an open nonprofit that supports a universal financial protocol. It wants to build an organizational model  similar to the Linux Foundation, said McCaleb, and it has funding from Stripe, Google and Black Rock. It uses blockchain technology to link participating financial institutions in its network. Stellar says payments across the network settle in two to five seconds and one penny covers 500,000 transactions.
“Stellar, in other words, can make it simpler and more affordable for people everywhere to send money home, to make small payments for things like on-demand solar power, and to save small amounts for school fees or healthcare,” wrote Jessica Collier, a communicator at Stellar, in a blog post explaining how the organization redefined its strategy in 2016. It decided it had to focus on working with financial institutions and consulting firms, anchors that are trusted to accept deposits and honor withdrawals as part of its missing to provide "low-cost financial services to fight poverty and develop individual potential”.

Yesterday Stellar announced partnerships with four financial institutions that will enable low-cost global money transfers to India, Philippines, Europe and cross-border M-PESA payments to and from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.
This is one of the first applications of blockchain tech that has the potential to affect a large number of people, outside of those already entrenched in the digital currency space, noted a company spokesperson.

Coins.ph, a leading mobile financial services provider for the underbanked in Southeast Asia, is now integrated to Stellar so its customers can send global remittances to anyone in the Philippines with just the recipient’s phone number. Senders can use a Stellar wallet or link from any institution connected to the Stellar network. Filipino workers around the world sent $26.92 billion back to the Philippines in 2015, making the Philippines the third largest remittance market in the world, according to the World Bank.

Read More Read More, Posted by: cousper
Jed McCaleb, December 6, 2016
[Image: New-partners--300x150.png]
This is Big.
Today, you can send money to anyone in the Philippines over the Stellar network–for free.
In your favorite Stellar wallet you can create a payment to
[any phone number in the Philippines]*coins.asia with the amount of Filipino pesos you want to send that person. Or you can use Tempo to send Euros. In either case they will receive the funds in 3-5 seconds. The recipient can cash out at any of Coins.ph‘s 22,000 locations.

This will make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people–overseas Filipino workers around the world sent $26.92 billion back to the Philippines in 2015, making the Philippines the third largest remittance market in the world.
Before we share the really exciting news about the other organizations coming on board, I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate this step forward in achieving our mission: enabling a worldwide financial network that anyone can use.

[Image: Countries-1-1.png]
Now…

Please welcome Coins.ph, Flutterwave, ICICI, and Tempo to the Stellar ecosystem and community.
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.
We’re happy they made the decision to integrate with Stellar because of efficiency and cost, and excited to see the Stellar universe expand exponentially.
A bit about our new partners:


[Image: coins-300x150.png]
Coins.ph, a leading mobile financial services provider for the underbanked in Southeast Asia, has announced that its Stellar integration is now live. People can now send money to anyone in the Philippines that has a phone number using a Stellar wallet or from any institution connected to the Stellar network.
[Image: Flutterwave-Logo-300x66.png]
Flutterwave, a cutting-edge pan-African financial technology and services company, will use Stellar to support cross-border payments to M-Pesa, a mobile platform for money transfer and financial services. For the 21 million M-Pesa users who are limited to transacting in Kenya, this move will expand their ability to send payments regardless of whether they are based in Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria.
[Image: 800px-ICICI_Bank_Logo.svg-300x62.png]
ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank by consolidated assets, is integrating with the Stellar network to support money transfers internationally and within India. ICICI Bank is working to launch a pilot program on Stellar for cross-border payments without traditional wire fees. Additionally, ICICI Bank is launching a mobile wallet application with a Stellar backend for university and office campuses, which they will potentially roll out to a larger customer base.

Raj Chowdhury, Head of the Blockchain initiative, ICICI Bank said,
“With blockchain technology we are able to conduct business seamlessly with parties with which we had no prior relationships. Blockchain platforms such as Stellar.org are providing us with an automated technology solution to establish trust without the need for an intermediary. This technology is enabling us to conduct business a lot quicker, cheaper with lower error rates and lower vulnerability to cyber threats. It is helping us eradicate the need for post transaction settlements which are cumbersome and expensive. We envision blockchain technology playing a key role in banking in the years ahead.”
[Image: TEMPO-Blue-Yellow-300x179.jpg]

Tempo Money Transfer, a high-tech European licensed remittance provider headquartered in Paris has integrated with the Stellar network. People can now send global remittances from Europe through Tempo, and to other financial institutions, such as Coins.ph in the Philippines, which are connected to the Stellar network.

What Does this Mean?
Why this is powerful is that, by integrating with Stellar, all of these organizations will immediately gain access to all the other institutions on the Stellar network, enabling their customers to send and receive low-cost and instant money transfers.
And likewise any new financial institution that joins the Stellar network will also be able to transact directly with Coins.ph, ICICI, Flutterwave and Tempo–accessing their large and diverse customer bases.
These partnerships are helping real people’s lives—here we have some of the first, on-the-ground use cases of “blockchain” improving the world we live in. We’re proud of that.
In 2017 and beyond, we will keep adding partners to the network, continuing our mission of making a massive impact in how money moves around the world.

Read More Read More, Posted by: cousper
[Image: Countries-1-1.png]

This is Big. 
Today, you can send money to anyone in the Philippines over the Stellar network–for free.
In your favorite Stellar wallet you can create a payment to
[any phone number in the Philippines]*coins.asia with the amount of Filipino pesos you want to send that person. Or you can use Tempo to send Euros. In either case they will receive the funds in 3-5 seconds. The recipient can cash out at any of Coins.ph‘s 22,000 locations.
 
This will make a huge difference in the lives of millions of people–overseas Filipino workers around the world sent $26.92 billion back to the Philippines in 2015, making the Philippines the third largest remittance market in the world.
 
Before we share the really exciting news about the other organizations coming on board, I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate this step forward in achieving our mission: enabling a worldwide financial network that anyone can use.



Our New Partners


Please welcome Coins.ph, Flutterwave, ICICI, and Tempo to the Stellar ecosystem and community.
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.
We’re happy they made the decision to integrate with Stellar because of efficiency and cost, and excited to see the Stellar universe expand exponentially.
A bit about our new partners:

[Image: coins-300x150.png]

Coins.ph, a leading mobile financial services provider for the underbanked in Southeast Asia, has announced that its Stellar integration is now live. Starting today, people can send global remittances to anyone in the Philippines using a Stellar wallet or from any institution connected to the Stellar network.
 

[Image: Flutterwave-Logo-300x66.png]

Flutterwave, a cutting-edge pan-African financial technology and services company, will use Stellar to support cross-border payments for M-Pesa, a mobile platform for money transfer and financial services. For the 21 million M-Pesa users who are limited to transacting in Kenya, this move will expand their ability to send payments regardless of whether they are based in Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria.
 

[Image: 800px-ICICI_Bank_Logo.svg-300x62.png]

 

ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, is integrating with the Stellar network to support money transfers internationally and within India. ICICI is planning to launch a pilot program on Stellar for cross-border payments without traditional wire fees. Additionally, ICICI is launching a mobile wallet application with a Stellar backend, which they will potentially roll out to their entire customer base.
 

[Image: TEMPO-Blue-Yellow-300x179.jpg]


Tempo Money Transfer, a high-tech European licensed remittance provider headquartered in Paris, France, has integrated with the Stellar network. Starting today, people can send global remittances to Europe through Tempo, and to financial institutions, such as Coins.ph in the Philippines, which are connected to the Stellar network.



What Does This Mean?
Why this is powerful is that, by integrating with Stellar, all of these organizations will immediately gain access to all the other institutions on the Stellar network, enabling their customers to send and receive low-cost and instant money transfers.
And likewise any new financial institution that joins the Stellar network will also be able to transact directly with Coins.ph, ICICI, Flutterwave and Tempo–accessing their large and diverse customer bases.
These partnerships are helping real people’s lives—here we have some of the first, on-the-ground use cases of “blockchain” improving the world we live in. We’re proud of that.
In 2017 and beyond, we will keep adding partners to the network, continuing our mission of making a massive impact in how money moves around the world.

Thank you for being part of it,

[Image: 67e894a4-520d-4f67-8781-34211ca2058a.png]

Read More Read More, Posted by: cousper
[Image: xICICI-Bank-Coins.ph-Flutterwave-Tempo-I...xuvx2.webp]The Stellar Development Foundation, the non-profit organization that oversees the Stellar open source payment network, has announced new partnerships to power cross-border payments in Europe, Africa, India and the Philippines...
Coins.ph, Flutterwave, ICICI Bank and Tempo have joined the Stellar ecosystem. All are looking at leveraging the Stellar network to provide their customers with a more convenient, faster and cheaper way of moving money globally.

ICICI Bank, one of India’s largest private sector banks, intends to use the Stellar network for both international and domestic money transfers. The bank plans to launch a pilot program on Stellar for cross-border payments. The new system would eliminate the traditional expensive wire fees, the bank said.

ICICI Bank said that it is launching a mobile wallet application with a Stellar backend for university and offices campuses, which may eventually be rolled out to a broader audience in the future.

Raj Chowdhury, head of the blockchain initiative at ICICI Bank, said that the bank “envisions blockchain technology playing a key role in banking in the years ahead.”

He said that with blockchain technology, “we are able to conduct business seamlessly with parties with which we had no prior relationships.”

“Blockchain platforms such as Stellar.org are providing us with an automated technology solution to establish trust without the need for an intermediary,” Chowdhury said.

“This technology is enabling us to conduct business a lot quicker, cheaper with lower error rates and lower vulnerability to cyber threats. It is helping us eradicate the need for post transaction settlements, which are cumbersome and expensive.”
Coins.ph, a Filipino bitcoin startup, will be using Stellar to allow clients to send money to anyone in the Philippines that has a phone number using a Stellar wallet or from any institution connected to the Stellar network.

Flutterwave, a pan-African fintech firm, will leverage the network to allow cross-border payments to M-Pesa, a leading mobile finance platform in Africa. For the 21 million M-Pesa users who are limited to transacting in Kenya, the move will expand their ability to send payments regardless of whether they are based in Kenya, Ghana or Nigeria.

Tempo Money Transfer, a licensed European remittance provider headquartered in Paris, will be using the Stella network to allow customers to send global remittances from Europe to other financial institutions that are part of the Stellar network.
Other participants in the Stellar ecosystem include Nigeria’s Parkway, which is using the network to connect the country’s five major telcos, enabling customers to send money from one another.

“Why this is powerful is that, by integrating with Stellar, all of these organizations will immediately gain access to all the other institutions on the Stellar network, enabling their customers to send and receive low-cost and instant money transfers,” Jed McCaleb, the creator of Stellar, wrote in a blog announcement.

“In 2017 and beyond, we will keep adding partners to the network, continuing our mission of making a massive impact in how money moves around the world.”
In May, Deloitte launched the Deloitte Digital Bank, which is leveraging the Stellar network to allow instant payments across borders.

“Banks are eager to replace the legacy systems,” said Thomas Jankovich, principal at Deloitte. “With all of the friction involved in sending payments—3-7 days to resolve transactions, high fees—we can erase those pain points using cutting-edge technology now.”

Read More Read More, Posted by: Eye4bd

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