Stellar Dev Foundation Invests $15M in AirTM to Improve Latin American Cross-Border Transfers

Stellar Dev Foundation Invests $15M in AirTM to Improve Latin American Cross-Border Transfers

  • The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) is deepening its roots in Latin America with a $15 million funding round to Mexico City’s AirTM, a digital wallet, and peer-to-peer crypto exchange.

In an announcement on Tuesday, SDF’s venture arm, Stellar Enterprise Fund, announced the multi-million funding round aims to boost the development of AirTM’s platform. Additionally, SDF will integrate Stellar blockchain to the platform in the coming year to make the transactions cheaper, a statement from the team reads.

Since the launch of the Enterprise Fund, this constitutes the largest ever investment from SDF. Previous investments by SDF include a $3 million funding round in Settle Network, an Argentine payments channel, and U.S.-based credits firm Tribal Credit, which also received $3 million at the end of April. These investments target the growth of digital payments and cross-border transfers across Latin American countries.

In a similar fashion, the $15 million investment will allow AirTM to enhance its financial services in Latin America while widening its market base. With the integration of Stellar, payments and cross-border transfers are expected to become cheaper and faster, which improves the financial access to Latin American people who have suffered under “fragmented financial systems” for long, SDF Executive Director Denelle Dixon said in the statement.

Adding to Dixon’s statement, AirTM CEO Ruben Galindo Steckel stated the investment would also allow businesses to flourish in Latin America – making them more compatible and open to the global economy. The investment further boosts the goal of the SDF to help “consumers and businesses throughout the developing world access stable money that holds its value” which “is instant to transfer with no fees, and can be withdrawn as local currency whenever, and wherever it’s needed” he continued.

Over the past six months, SDF also invested $5 million in blockchain payment firm, Wyre, to help introduce various payment application programming interfaces, commonly known as APIs, which can integrate with different apps within the Stellar ecosystem. In December, SDF invested $3 million (paid in Stellar Lumens, or XLM) to Settle to focus on fiat-to-crypto on-ramps and boost transactions across the LATAM region.

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Author: Lujan Odera

China & UAE Central Banks Join HKMA & BoT In ‘Multiple CBDC Bridge’ For Cross-Border Payments

China & UAE Central Banks Join HKMA & BoT In ‘Multiple CBDC Bridge’ For Cross-Border Payments

To reduce cross-border payment’s pain, the Central Bank of United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) and People’s Bank of China (PBoC) have joined multiple-CBDC’s projects, announced Hong-Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and Bank of Thailand (BoT) on 23rd February.

The project, Central Bank of Digital Currency (CBDC), has pulled many central banks to blockchain across Asia, making regulation easier against regular currencies (fiats). Now, HKMA and BOT are on the road together with the People’s Bank of China and Central Banks of UAE to explore Blockchain Ledger Technology’s possible facilities.

In light of the announcement, the current phase of the exploration into Central Bank of Digital Currency, based on the ‘Inthanon-LionRock’ research project, is going to create a PoC (proof of concept) to,

“Facilitate real-time cross-border foreign exchange payment-versus-payment transactions in a multi-jurisdictional context and on a 24/7 basis.”

The CBDC focuses explicitly on resolving the difficulties a user faces during cross-border payments. Complex regulations and cost inefficiencies are the primary barriers to transfer funds across countries. As Mathee Supapongse, BoT’s deputy governor noted earlier,

“The model offers a cross-border corridor network where participants can transfer funds instantaneously on a peer-to-peer basis and in an atomic PvP manner. The design and key findings of the project have added new dimensions to central bank communities’ studies on cross-border funds transfer area.”

The inclusion of Asia’s significant countries’ central banks in the CBDC project would lead other financial sectors to join the track. And if it comes true, the adoptions will create a transparent and inducive environment for CBDC to integrate finance beyond Asia, too.

The growing profile of blockchain has compelled the vast number of government authorities to have a digital alternative to decentralized coins like Bitcoin and its linked currencies.

Due to the highly technical nature of the digital market, government sectors would find it hard to track and control the flow of digital assets. And this will eventually make CBDC the commonplace to come in the future. China is second to none in creating CBDC’s mechanism and trying hardware biometric ID wallets for its digital yuan.

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Author: James W

BIS to Build Proof of Concept Network for Testing Cross-Border Payments Using CBDC’s

BIS to Build Proof of Concept Network for Testing Cross-Border Payments Using CBDC’s

The Bank of International Settlements’ Innovation Hub (BISIH) announced this week that one of its highest priorities is the continued research and testing of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), along with five other areas of focus.

This news is according to this year’s annual work program, which lays out its intention to “explore the feasibility of faster and cheaper cross-border payments” using central bank digital currencies. The BISIH further added that it would dedicate its work this year to exploring prototypes in the creation of “tiered retail CBDC distribution architectures” along with “tokenized green bonds to retail investors.”

To drive these priorities forward, they will be headed up by the company’s Innovation Hub Centres in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Switzerland while also coordinating with local central banks. The BISIH’s Innovation Center in Singapore, for example, has its sights set on the development of an ‘International Settlement Platform’ where regulated banks and payment entities can conduct and settle transactions using a range of CBDCs.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Innovation Center will be working on green bonds, specifically with the intent of tokenizing green bond assets for retail investors. Additionally, Hong Kong’s center will work on building a bridge to enable foreign exchange transactions of approved CBDCs, along with stablecoin issuance.

Switzerland’s BISIH Center is one of the furthest ahead in terms of development. It has already completed two functional proofs-of-concept for linking payment systems to test out payment settlements using tokenized assets and wholesale CBDC. This was done through its initiative dubbed ‘Project Helvtica.’ Discussing the details of BISIH’s work program, Innovation Hub’s Head, Benoit Coeure, said the following:

“This work programme shows our commitment to exploring in the most practical ways how best to harness technological change for the benefit of central banks and create public goods to support the global financial system.”

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Author: James Fox

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to Speak About Digital Currencies Today

As part of a panel on “Cross-Border Payments—A Vision for the Future,” at the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) annual meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will speak about digital currencies Monday.

The panel will start at 8 a.m. ET on Oct. 19.

During this virtual event, while discussing the potential solutions to enhance the cross-border payments, the “benefits and risks” of digital currencies and their macro-financial implications will also be covered.

“On Monday, Jay Powell gives his input on central bank digital currencies at the IMF talk listed above. Central Bank digital currencies are coming, and they will change everything… They are coming under stealth of X-border payments but it means so much more…” said former hedge fund manager Raoul Pal, CEO of Real Vision Group.

It is, however, not mentioned if Powell would be sharing his thoughts on a digital dollar.

Other panelists include Agustín Carstens, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS); Ahmed Abdulkarim Alkholifey Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority; and Nor Shamsiah, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva as the moderator.

You can watch live here:

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Author: AnTy

ConsenSys to Lead Phase Two of Hong Kong and Thailand’s Cross-Border CBDC Project

ConsenSys has been awarded the contract to lead phase two of the cross-border payments ‘CBDC’ project between Hong Kong and Thailand. Dubbed project ‘Inthanon-LionRock,’ the initiative follows successful research by the central banks of both jurisdictions, which found an additional value case in building a cross-border CBDC.

According to the press release by ConsenSys, they will work alongside industry giants Forms HK and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) towards implementing the second phase. Notably, the project has been in the works since May 2019 when the Bank of Thailand (BoT) and Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) signed a memorandum of understanding to dig deeper into the value proposition CBDC’s.

With ConsenSys now in the picture, the joint CBDC between Thailand and Hong Kong will move past the research phase to a more practical era. ConsenSys has since been tasked with building a proof-of-concept (PoC) cross-border corridor to enable Hong Kong’s Lionrock and Thailand’s Inthanon networks to interact seamlessly. The press release reads,

“Using its enterprise Ethereum stack, ConsenSys will test solutions that prioritize scalability, security, and interoperability.”

This is not the first time ConsenSys works collaboratively with a particular authority towards designing and developing a CBDC. The blockchain software technology firm has, in the past, worked with the South African Reserve Bank and Monetary Authority of Singapore to create decentralized payment networks. ConsenSys Hong Kong Director, Charles d’Haussy, noted that they are thrilled to take on a new initiative in a similar line,

“ConsenSys is thrilled to lead this implementation of CBDC for cross-border payments. We are humbled to work on the development of Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Ant Group Launches Blockchain-Powered Cross-border Trade Settlement Platform ‘Trusple’

Ant Group, owner of mobile payment app Alipay, launched a blockchain-powered platform for cross-border trade settlements this week. The move came ahead of its IPO, which it plans to list in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s STAR Market next month simultaneously.

The 16-year old giant, which is backed by e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group, is seeking to raise about $35 billion in the dual IPO to become the world’s largest IPO by surpassing oil giant Saudi Aramco’s billion last December.

Previously known as Ant Financial, Ant was rebranded this year as a tech firm due to tighter financial regulations.

Ant is known for submitting the most number of blockchain patent applications globally, over the past two years. The technology saw a surge in interest after President Xi Jinping said last year that the country should accelerate its development.

Its new platform, “Trusple,” is based on Antchain, the company’s blockchain technology.

On this platform, buyers and sellers upload their orders, which automatically generate smart contracts with information like logistics. The banks then process payments using Antchain.

The users of the platform could also include vendors that sell to other businesses through marketplaces like Alibaba’s overseas e-commerce site, AliExpress.

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Author: AnTy

Ripple Gains Praise From US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau For Remittance Service

Ripple and XRP’s remittance potential in cross-border transfers has been recognized by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

According to a CFPB paper from May 11, the bureau responsible for providing the financial sector’s US consumers has been researching the remittance market’s new trends. Furthermore, it has been focusing on the continued expansion and growth of partnerships developed by digital asset companies such as Ripple.

XRP for Settling Cross-Border Transfers

In the same paper, the CFPB mentioned that XRP could be used for cross-border transfers. Also, Ripple’s products can give credit unions and banks exact information on how much remittance transfers’ recipients are going to receive before they’re even being sent anything.

The platform for global payments innovation (GPI) from SWIFT was mentioned in the paper too. This platform’s purpose is to speed up remittance by using the infrastructure banks from all over the world prefer to use.

SWIFT said it was considering using blockchain rails for its GPI solution ever since 2019, yet no update on this matter has been provided yet.

Ripple Pushes for XRP Adoption

In spite of showing support for Ripple, the CFPB doesn’t seem too enthusiastic about crypto company’s push for widespread adoption of the XRP. It concluded that any new solutions would most likely not eliminate the reliance on their correspondent banking network, as this what the market players’ feedback and the agency’s estimations have revealed.

Despite this, Ripple doesn’t give up, aiming at the financial mainstream. Only last month, it had Japan-based financial giant SBI Holdings, which it’s its investor and partner, announcing that Ripple-powered settlements are going to be integrated with ATMs all over Japan. According to market researcher Fundstrat, XRP was the weakest performing crypto asset since the beginning of 2020 until May.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Firms Have Borrowed $8.2 Billion from the Blockchain Platform of a Chinese Forex Regulator

The Chinese regulator State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) runs a cross-border blockchain financing system and has helped firms with more than $8.2 billion.

The SAFE platform has helped small and medium-sized (SMEs) corporations and enterprises with this amount of money in only 8 months after being opened, reports the Economic Information Daily. Ever since it has been launched in March 2019, it has expanded its pilot financing program from 7 provinces to 17, having more than 160 banks joining its program.

One-Third of Chinese Lenders Providing Forex Services

Since November 29th, almost 1,600 companies, most of them SMEs, have become part of the SAFE program and started sharing their financial bookkeeps with over 160 banks. One-third of the lenders in China are providing Forex service. SAFE’s deputy director Zhang Xin said the platform will be advanced to make foreign exchange receipts and cross-border trade settlements easier. This is what the blockchain analyst Cao Yin declared about the initiative:

“The traditional financial processes, which require a lot of human labor to carry out information verification and authorization, leave a lot of room for financial fraud, but as the blockchain system promises a decentralized and encrypted track of each capital flow, it leaves potentially little to no space for human mediation.”

Aside from having a reliable trust mechanism, the SAFE platform offers real-time supervision and reduced processing time for any transaction. Zhang said transactions are now taking in place in 15 minutes, as opposed to the 1 or 2 days like they did before.

SAFE Platform to Be One of the Most Influential Chinese Blockchain Projects

The cross-border blockchain platform run by SAFE is at the moment the only state organ to file a Cyberspace Administration of China blockchain record. It’s set to become one of the most influential blockchain projects in the country, together with the central bank’s Greater Bay Area blockchain trade and finance platform.

After President Xi Jinping has endorsed the blockchain, more government authorities and enterprises in China have started hurrying to implement the new technology. Earlier in November, China has launched a blockchain identification system for cities.

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Author: Oana Ularu

xRapid Update: Bitso Liquidity Index Breaks into an ATH as XRP/MXN Trading Gains Momentum

  • MoneyGram facilitating cross-border flows
  • Significant Volume means Ripple doesn’t have to incentivize
  • The Bitso Liquidity Index has broken into an all-time high (ATH).

Mexican licensed crypto exchange Bitso is seeing heightened activity when it comes to XRP/MXN trading. Though the volume in itself isn’t much, it is making progress and continuously growing.

In the past 24 hours, XRP/MXN registered the trading volume of $509,763, accounting for 0.05 percent of all the volume recorded in XRP markets, as per Coinmarketcap.

On Sept. 14, XRP/MXN trading volume surpassed BTC/MXN volume on Bitso. However, currently, while BTC/MXN accounts for more than half at 58.45% of all trading volume on Bitso, XRP/MXN only has about 32% share.

MoneyGram facilitating Cross-Border Flows

Just last month, Breanne Madigan, the head of Global Institutional Markets at Ripple and former Goldman Sachs executive shared despite the trading volume of the digital asset being down 65 percent, XRP/MXN has surged 25 percent.

Speaking at Global Blockchain Policy Forum organized by the OECD on Sept. 13 in Paris, Madigan shared how it works.

With one of its latest partner MoneyGram as an example, she detailed how MoneyGram help facilitate their cross-border flows for someone who lives in the US and wants to send Mexican pesos back to Mexico.

How it works is, through its partnership Ripple send MoneyGrams flow to one of the originating exchanges say Coinbase in the US where the US dollars get swapped to XRP and then they get sent to cross-border to a local exchange in Mexico say Bitso where it takes that XRP and swaps it into local Mexican pesos. The consumer then will receive Mexican pesos directly.

So, Ripple delivered significant cost savings to MoneyGram, a real value proposition to a company that’s affecting the end consumers because their fees will be lowered as a result.

As such as Ripple scale xRapid, its on-demand liquidity product, they’re launching new corridors.

Significant Volume Means Ripple Doesn’t Have to Incentivize

Madigan further states the way they’ve structured their contracts is in such a way that it leaves an opportunity for new liquidity participants to have the incentive to enter.

Since launching MoneyGram into that corridor, “a number of new liquidity participants are realizing there is a real arbitrage opportunity,” and Ripple doesn’t have to pay to incentivize people to make markets because there’s the significant volume going through that corridor.

On another note,

Madigan also talked about how they’ve seen global consensus from countries across the world including the UK, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore noting that XRP is not a security but in fact a hybrid between a utility and settlement token.

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Author: AnTy

Ripple’s xRapid Usage Experiences Sudden Increase in Usage: Senior VP

XRP-And-Ripple-Supporter-Raises-Concerns-About-Network-Decentralization

Ripple, a cryptocurrency founded on the need to offer real-time, instant and cross-border payments, is a no-ordinary asset. The coin’s consensus ledger is unique and a lot different from a majority of the digital currencies because it essentially requires no confirmation. Its original objective of being an alternative for banks and financial institutions to settle payments transparently and at a much lower cost is alive.

As for XRP, the project’s native cryptocurrency, the fact that it’s been doing quite well, according to Coinmarketcap, is a testament to how exciting Ripple is. XRP has been hovering around $0.30 lately, constantly exhibiting bullish signals that favor buyers. And this is partly linked to the recent happenings in the coin’s demand – an influx of XRP users.

Over the past few days, xRapid, a liquidity platform dedicated to banks that use Ripple, has been experiencing an unprecedented increase in traffic. According to the senior vice president of product management at Ripple, Asheesh Birla, the phenomenon is attributed to a massive user increase.

It is safe to say xRapid is Ripple’s most vibrant project right now. It has been active before, but not as alive with multiple banking institutions and other mainstream cash transfer entities as it is right now. It has been so buzzing lately that it is only recently that MoneyGram finally joined the clique of companies relying on it.

MoneyGram Inc, the world’s second-biggest financial transfer firm, chose xRapid for the cross-border transactions and payments. Besides the efficiency guaranteed, the decision is largely attributed to the platform’s surging number of customers.

ILP Connector Implementation Slated for Next Year

The platform’s newly acquired fame hasn’t been without questions, especially on Twitter. A user named Michael iPinky7 sought to know whether xRapid employed the ILP conductor functionality.

ILP connector is designed to address different network hosts and also guarantee swift completion of payments sent across various, independent ledgers. One of its core uses is to safely allow routing of disbursements across digital asset ledgers while eliminating any risk of intermediary failures between the two parties.

In response to the question, therefore, Asheesh Birla was categorical in her answer. First, xRapid, according to her, works as an ILP connector. She, however, said they are still working towards making it a fully-fledged one, a project they expect to complete in early 2020.

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Author: Lillian Peter