Visa sends blockchain-based B2B payments network live

Visa B2B Connect utilises open source Hyperledger Fabric framework from the Linux Foundation, in partnership with IBM.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Visa has announced the commercial launch of its cross-border payments network, Visa B2B Connect.

According to the company, the network allows financial institutions to quickly and securely process high-value corporate cross-border payments globally.

The launch will cover more than 30 global trade corridors, with Visa saying the aim is to expand into as many as 90 markets by end of 2019.

Visa said that along with using its own core assets, it has partnered with IBM Blockchain for Visa B2B Connect. The company touted the use of blockchain will provide "improved process to facilitate financial transactions on a scalable, permissioned network".

The IBM Blockchain Platform is built on top of Hyperledger Fabric, an open source blockchain project from the Linux Foundation.

See also: Blockchain: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

"With Visa B2B Connect, we are leveraging Visa's existing assets and our expertise in cybersecurity, data privacy, the scale of our network -- and layering that with new elements of distributed-ledger technology to meet unique needs of this industry," SVP of data product development at Visa Sam Hamilton said.

"This lays the foundation for a service with the potential to transform cross-border payments."

See also: Gartner says 90% of blockchain projects will need replacing in 18 months

It is intended for Visa B2B Connect to remove friction and time spent on cross-border corporate transactions by facilitating transactions from the bank of origin directly to the beneficiary bank.

"The network's unique digital identity feature tokenises an organisation's sensitive business information, such as banking details and account numbers, giving them a unique identifier that can be used to facilitate transactions on the network," the company said in a statement.

Visa said partners, including Bottomline, FIS, and IBM are integral parts of the future scale of Visa B2B Connect, with Bottomline and FIS bringing the Visa B2B Connect platform access to its participating bank clients.

IBM in March announced that its blockchain-based global payments network had been sent into limited production, with the company touting it as the "new financial rail" that has the capacity to clear and settle cross-border payments in near real-time.

IBM Blockchain World Wire, Big Blue claims, is the first blockchain-based network that integrates payment messaging, clearing, and settlement on a single network.

See also: Why blockchain is essential to the future of banking and finance  (TechRepublic)

Financial messaging service SWIFT in February also detailed a new proof of concept that will trial its gpi Link gateway that interlinks e-commerce and trading platforms with the SWIFT gpi, using R3's Corda distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Gpi Link, SWIFT explained, will connect gpi members to multiple trade platforms to enable gpi payment initiation, tracking, payer authentication, and credit confirmation.

The first stage of the PoC will work on R3's Corda blockchain.

Visa first announced in September 2016 it was kicking off a pilot project in Europe designed to test how blockchain technology could be used in cross-border money transfers.

The pilot took place through Visa Europe Collab, Visa's London-based innovation hub, in cooperation with Canadian blockchain startup BTL Group.

At the time, Visa said it planned to use BTL's interbank settlement platform Interbit to see whether blockchain can reduce costs, settlement times, and credit risks associated with international transfers between banks.


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