Stellar, a Silicon Valley-based non-profit organization and blockchain platform that connects banks and payments systems, has gone global with partnerships in India, the Philippines, Africa and Europe.
The organization, which lets people send international remittances cheaply, has partnered with ICICI Bank, India’s largest private sector bank by consolidated assets; Philippine mobile payments startup Coins, which received $5 million in funding from Accion earlier this year; Flutterwave, a platform as a service for processing any method of payment across African countries; and Tempo Money Transfer, a technology-driven international payment services provider headquartered in Paris, France that offering on- and offline remittances to more than 100 countries.
Stellar was founded in 2014 by Jed McCaleb, who also cofounded Ripple and the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange that brought the digital currency to notoriety. It also counts Patrick Collison, cofounder and CEO of Stripe as a financial backer. Stellar partnered with Deloitte this year to provide blockchain-related services to the consulting giant's financial services clients.
By integrating with Stellar, each network member immediately gains access to each other as well. Financial institutions on the Stellar network will be able to send money to the Philippines through Coins, to India through ICICI and from Europe through Tempo, for example. Stellar claims they can transact in three to five seconds and without the usual friction or barriers that lead to high transfer fees.
Starting today, anyone can send money to the Philippines through Stellar by visiting a local money transfer service that also connected with Stellar, or digitally with a Stellar wallet. The Philippines received $26.92 billion in remittances from Filipinos working overseas in 2015, making it the third largest remittance market according to the World Bank.
ICICI is working on the launch of a cross-border payments pilot over the Stellar network that wouldn't require traditional wire fees. The bank is also developing a mobile wallet application with a Stellar backend for university and office campuses, which it could roll out to a larger customer base if the pilot is successful. It did not indicate when it plans to run either program.
“With blockchain technology we are able to conduct business seamlessly with parties with which we had no prior relationships,” Raj Chowdhury, head of ICICI’s blockchain initiative, said in a Dec. 6 news release. “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."