Morning Brief 9.17.20: Ripple, PhonePe join African financial inclusion push

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Inclusion block

Ripple is adding its support to the Mojaloop Foundation, which uses nationally-sponsored payment programs and open source software to advance financial inclusion in Africa.

Other new members include PhonePe, one of India's largest digital payment platforms, and Giori Digital, a Swiss company that support central bank digital currency projects.

PhonePe powers digital B2B payments and other transfers, partly through collaborations with partners like Walmart. Ripple's blockchain has been a major factor in making cross-border payments more efficient by eliminating correspondent banks and other third parties involved in currency management.

Ripple also has launched a digital ID project in collaboration with about 40 companies, and raised $200 million late last year to expand its core blockchain technology.

PhonePe
PhonePe

Stepping up

Veem, a cross-border B2B payments startup, has raised $31 million in a new funding round led by Truist Financial Corp., a North Carolina-based commercial bank. The infusion brings Veem’s total VC funds to just over $100 million.

The strategic investment will go toward improving Veem’s products and reaching new industry verticals in a wider geographic footprint, according to a press release.

Veem, launched in 2014, enables small and midsize suppliers and contractors to send and receive funds in 100 countries.

Kicking up sand

The Central Bank of the Bahamas will launch its digital currency as early as October, making it one of the first jurisdictions to offer a central bank digital currency.

Called the "sand dollar," it beats China's digital yuan, which isn't expected to launch until the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, reports Coindesk. The sand dollar will be backed by the Bahamanian dollar, which is backed by the U.S. dollar. About $48,000 will be issued initially, with more minted as demanded.

The Bahamas began testing the sand dollar earlier in 2020 as part of a larger payment modernization and financial inclusion project.

European push

Mastercard and payment technology firm Handpoint are collaborating to bridge gaps that are keeping small businesses in parts of Europe from supporting contactless payments.

The two companies will work in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Italy, Slovakia and the U.K. to offer mobile point of sale, payment terminals and support for contactless payment projects at small businesses.

Mastercard reports 75% of its transactions in Europe are contactless, a rapid growth that accompanied the coronavirus pandemic.

From the web

Facebook-backed Libra appoints former HSBC exec to head cryptocurrency
REUTERS | Thursday, September 17 2020
The Facebook-backed FB.O Libra project has appointed former HSBC European head James Emmett to lead Libra's operational unit tasked with developing and operating the project's cryptocurrency payments system, the Libra Association said on Thursday.

Nasdaq makes push into anti-money laundering tech with new AI-based system
REUTERS | Wednesday, September 16 2020
Exchange group Nasdaq said on Wednesday that it is launching AI technology to help retail and commercial banks automate anti-money laundering (AML)investigations, as it expands into the financial crime software market.

Kraken Becomes First Crypto Exchange to Become a US Bank
COINDESK | Wednesday, September 16 2020
On Wednesday, the Wyoming Banking Board voted to approve the San Francisco-based crypto exchange’s application for a special purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter. Kraken is now the first SPDI bank in Wyoming. According to the Wyoming Division of Banking’s general counsel, Chris Land, Kraken will also be the first newly chartered (de novo) bank in the state since 2006.

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