On May 27, 2018, ConsenSyS announced the selection of five rural banks in the crypto-friendly Philippines to try out its blockchain-based real-time payments solution.
Banking the Unbanked
The Union Bank of the Philippines has joined forces with the ConsenSyS blockchain startup to change the faces of five rural banks in the Mindanao region.
The project dubbed “i2i,” shorthand for “island-to-island,” “institution-to-institution,” and “individual-to-individual” is aimed at giving the estimated 35 million unbanked citizens of the Philippines access to real-time banking services. More to that, the project looks to connect rural banks to the nation’s financial system via the ConsenSys Kaleido Blockchain platform.
At current, the rural banks participating in the Central Bank’s (BSP) approved project include Cantilan Bank, Inc. of Surigao del Sur, PR Savings Bank, City Savings Bank, FairBank, and Progressive Bank.
These rural banks have little in common with the country’s financial system as they are not connected to Bancnet nor are they members of the Philippines clearinghouse. As such, they cannot issue checks. Union Bank chairman Dr. Justo Ortiz added:
“The i2i Project is a real-time, cost-effective and secure retail payment system in the blockchain,” said UnionBank chair, Dr. Justo Ortiz. He also noted that the new solution could help “crack the hole of financial inclusivity.”
A ConsenSys Breakthrough?
On May 17, 2018, As reported that Amazon Web Services (AWS) had also joined forces with Kaleido. The ConsenSyS born startup is a blockchain-powered business cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS), with the primary objective of making blockchain adoption and integration as seamless and frictionless as possible.
Notably, the Union Bank blockchain project is powered by the ConsenSyS’ Kaleido blockchain solution. The ConsenSyS Solutions Lead in Asia-Pacific, Alai Garcia has highlighted the fact that the Philippines’ Central Bank is their first client in the region.
With Kaleido, firms “can focus on their scenario. [They] don’t have to become Ph.D.s in cryptography, we give them a simple platform to build their company on blockchain [technology],” said the co-founder of Kaleido, Steve Cerveny, earlier in May 2018.
Per the Philippines’ Central Bank, of the 1,634 cities and municipalities in the nation, 554 remain unbanked and all that is expected to change soon with the UnionBank-ConsenSys partnership.
“Our team was inspired to harness blockchain in order to reach farther into our rural communities of the Philippines. Many people are still financially excluded and we’re looking to change that. In partnership with ConsenSyS and running on the Kaleido platform, we successfully accelerated Project i2i into active pilot without the complexity and cost of starting from scratch,” Ortiz concluded.
With the already vibrant Filipino crypto space, coupled with the new i2i project, there’s no doubt that the Asia-Pacific nation is on its way to greater heights.