Mastercard, R3 to test blockchain B2B payments

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Mastercard and blockchain software provider R3 plan to test a new blockchain-enabled cross-border payments service to connect global faster payments rails supported by a Mastercard-operated clearing and settlement network.

The partnership comes a few months after Mastercard acquired Transfast to strengthen its cross-border network. The agreement with R3 will provide access to the R3 Corda ecosystem of more than 300 leading financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators and trade associations.

“Developing a new and better cross-border B2B payments solution by improving worldwide connectivity in the account-to-account space is central to Mastercard’s ambition," Peter Klein, executive vice president of new payment platforms at Mastercard, said in a Wednesday press release. "Our goal is to deliver global payment infrastructure choice and connectivity as demonstrated through our recent strategic acquisitions and partnerships, including our relationship with R3."

R3's Corda operates as an open-source blockchain, while Corda Enterprise is a commercial version for enterprise use. R3 says its platform is being used in health care, shipping, insurance and other verticals.

"All institutions — large or small — rely on the ability to send and receive payments, but all too often the technology they rely upon is cumbersome and expensive," David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, said in the release. "Cross-border payments can be a particular pain point. Corda was designed specifically for enterprise use cases such as this, and we look forward to supporting Mastercard in bringing blockchain-enabled payments businesses across the globe.”

Last week, Mastercard joined the Marco Polo B2B initiative, an R3 Corda project started two years ago and currently serving about two dozen financial institutions.

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