Blockchain Financing Service Launched By Interswitch And Microsoft In Nigeria

Dgital payments and commerce firm Interswitch Group has teamed with tech giant Microsoft to launch a blockchain-based supply chain financing service in Nigeria.

Called the Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain FinanceModule), the new service, unveiled on Friday in Lagos, is built and hosted using Microsoft’s Azure blockchain technology. The new service aims to digitize the process between corporates and banks when providing trade financing to entrepreneurs and business owners in the supply chain sector.

“In our 15 years of operation, we have experienced the bottle necks associated with the existing corporate-based financing infrastructure in Nigeria,” said Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch. “This is why we are happy to partner with Microsoft, by leveraging the advanced technology of the Microsoft Azure Blockchain, to prove the possibility of building a distributed ledger that is practical, viable and has the propensity to solve some of Nigeria’s most difficult financial and logistic problems.”

According to Interswitch, the service will streamline the process of accessing finance from three months to three weeks. Business benefits that will be provided by the new blockchain service include: reduced fraud, eliminate intermediaries, grow revenue, create new partnerships, and allow businesses to expand into new markets.

“With the launch of the Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain Finance Module), small to middle-sized businesses could access more funding in a shorter time from participating banks, such as United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) and Zenith Bank Plc and enjoyed increased sales cycles from participating corporations, such as the Dangote Group,” Elegbe said.

The new service does not deploy the use of cryptocurrency in its application. Transaction enquiries and verifications would be handled by authorized officials from participating entities, without the incentives of a cryptocurrency.

Michael Glaros, Principal Programme Manager, Microsoft Azure Blockchain at Microsoft, said that the Interswitch Blockchain Service will allow Nigerian lenders and suppliers to identify and build relationships with high performing entrepreneurs, as this would help empower people to create more jobs, more wealth, and a “more prosperous Africa.”

“This will be the first enterprise-grade blockchain service in Nigeria, and one of only a handful of production blockchain applications in use by banks and corporate globally,” Glaros said. “The blockchain technology is still in its infancy in Nigeria and we are happy to pioneer its deployment in partnership with Interswitch.”

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