SA bank joins R3 to develop Africa’s first distributed ledger-based banking solution

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Absa Bank, the South African subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group, has joined the R3 blockchain consortium, which leads the research and development of blockchain usage in the financial system.

By joining the consortium, Absa Bank will be looking to develop Africa’s first distributed ledger-based banking solution.

To achieve this, it will be working with the consortium – which has 40-plus members, including a range of banks and non-bank financial institutions worldwide – and other South African banks through a collaborative working group.

CEO of R3, David Rutter said, “The addition of Absa marks another significant milestone for R3 as we continue to expand the global presence of our consortium,”

He added, “Africa is a key market for us and we look forward to collaborating with Absa to develop distributed and shared ledger technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the infrastructure across global financial markets.”

This news is just a natural next step for Barclays as it has been experimenting with blockchain technology for a while now.

You will recall that the Bank launched an Africa-wide blockchain supply chain challenge in partnership with Rise last year.

The challenge was eventually won by Markit Opportunity, a Kenyan e-commerce platform with a social mission to connect buyers and sellers.

Also, the bank co-hosted the second edition of the Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference, which took place in Johannesburg, South Africa on 3-4 March 2016.

At the moment, there are over ten blockchain-based experiments and research initiatives being piloted within the bank.

“We have been watching this space closely and the client and product use cases in the corporate and investment bank are starting to look really interesting. We look forward to working with R3 to fully explore these applications,” said James Scott, Head of Digital, Corporate and Investment Bank for Barclays Africa.

Blockchain technology (and Bitcoin especially) has been on the news for a while now because some proponents believe it has the potential to do the financial sector a lot of good.

In Africa (and maybe across the world), there are still fears concerning the technology but it is really a good thing that Barclays Africa is belling the cat and exploring ways to unlock the value of the technology for Africans.

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