Emirates NBD, a leading banking group in the Middle East, has tied up with IT supplier EdgeVerve Systems and ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank, to launch a blockchain-based network for international remittances and trade finance.
The pilot transactions were made on a custom-made blockchain application, co-created with EdgeVerve Systems, a subsidiary of Infosys.
The new experiment reflects the rising profile of blockchain technology in both India and UAE.
In our upcoming QIR report we will delve into fintech implications for the finance industry in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), and briefly outline the characteristics of this realm and what aspects of it can be disrupted to help for greater inclusion. This includes the efforts made by regional governments to promote financial technology and digitized interactions, in addition to some success stories in the MENA region, particularly in the United Arab Emirates.
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Through the blockchain network’s integration with Infosys’s core banking platform Finacle and other host systems, the banks were able to automate inter-bank processes, securely exchange digital documents, and transfer invoices and purchase orders in a transparent and secure manner.
Although Emirates NBD and ICICI initiative is the first of its kind in the Middle East and India, on a global basis they are not alone, with other banks planning similar projects. Examples include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which will join Microsoft to test the technology that powers Bitcoin to create a framework that may eventually be sold to other businesses.
In addition, ICICI Bank and Emirates NBD plans to build a network consortium for further participation by interested member banks in a bid to expand the new ecosystem and create common working standards that contribute to the commercial adoption of this initiative.
Commenting on the partnership, his highness Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates NBD, said: “Our pilot project with Infosys Finance and ICICI bank, a first for the banking sector in the UAE, demonstrates blockchain’s immense potential to change how organizations and governments conduct business. We look forward to further collaboration with the public sector and our private peers to further adoption of this technology in the UAE.”
Ms. Chanda Kochhar, CEO at ICICI Bank, added: “ICICI Bank has a rich legacy of leveraging the latest technology to bring in new paradigms in banking. Akin to pioneering new technologies in the country like software robotics, mobility and near-field communication among others, I am delighted that we are the first bank in India and among few globally to set up a blockchain application. We have also marked a milestone by piloting a blockchain network with Emirates NBD and Infosys Finacle as partners and have successfully executed cross-border open account trade finance and remittance transactions.”