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Industry roundup: 12 April

IDB and Citi Innovation Labs achieve cross-border payments over blockchain

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Citi Innovation Labs have concluded a successful proof of concept to make cross-border payments from the US to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, using blockchain and tokenised money, that provides full traceability of the transactions, exchange rates, and fees. The LACChain Blockchain Network enabled several disbursements from the IDB Headquarters in Washington D.C. to a recipient in the Dominican Republic. 

"For the proof of concept, the IDB deposited funds denominated in dollars in a Citi account, which were hold, tokenised, and transferred using digital wallets," explained Marcos Allende, IDB specialist in Blockchain and technical leader of LACChain. "After tokenised, these funds were converted to local currency - Dominican pesos - with the exchange rate established by Citi. Exchange rates, payment status, and fees were traceable and transparent at all times as the transaction could be checked in the LACChain Blockchain."

This type of solution, in addition to its potential for cross-border payments, may have a potential impact on vulnerable groups, enabling enhancements in applications such as remittances.

"There are many applications of inclusive cross-border payments, such as official development assistance and international remittances," commented Irene A. Hofman, CEO of the IDB Lab. "There is no doubt that they are extremely important for the economies of our region and, more importantly, for final beneficiaries and families receiving remittances."

Piotr Marciszewski, the project coordinator from Citi, concluded that: "We have learned a lot in this joint effort with the IDB about the use of blockchain technology for cross- border payments. We have demonstrated that it is possible to connect the LACChain Network with the WordLink APIs and leverage the benefits of blockchain technology."


Standard Chartered investment triggers merger of CurrencyFair and Assembly Payments

CurrencyFair, a global cross-border payments platform and Assembly Payments, whose platform automates complex payment workflows, have announced their merger as a result of a strategic investment by Standard Chartered, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval. 

SC Ventures, the innovation, ventures and fintech investments unit of Standard Chartered is doubling down on its commitment to the rapidly growing payments industry, following its earlier investment in Assembly Payments in 2020. Paul Byrne, CEO of CurrencyFair, will lead the merged business.

"Digital payments is a core strategic area for Standard Chartered and our 2020 investment in Assembly Payments greatly enhanced our presence in the domestic payments business," said Bill Winters, group chief executive of Standard Chartered. "By bringing together the complementary strengths of CurrencyFair and Assembly, we are supporting the merged company in offering the full range of payment services, providing retail and corporate clients access to fast, high-volume domestic and cross-border payments."

The new company will focus on addressing pain points including the fragmentation of payment ecosystems, the complexity of implementing different payment ecosystems from a technical, operational, financial, and regulatory perspective, privacy and security of data, and cross-border e-commerce for multi-market and multi-currency collection requirements.


U.S. Bank names president of Global Corporate Trust and Custody

U.S. Bank has announced that John C. Stern has been named president of its Global Corporate Trust and Custody business within U.S. Bank Wealth Management and Investment Services. Stern, who currently serves as U.S. Bancorp corporate treasurer, will assume the role effective 17 May 2021.

Stern is a 20-year veteran of U.S. Bank. He currently leads the team that executes all of U.S. Bank’s treasury functions, including liquidity, capital, interest rate risk, investment portfolio, derivatives, wholesale debt issuance, operations, internal funds transfer pricing, net interest income forecasting and quantitative balance sheet and capital markets modelling. 

“As corporate treasurer, John has helped strengthen our reputation and solidify our position as one of the highest-rated financial services companies in the world,” said Gunjan Kedia, vice chair of U.S. Bank Wealth Management and Investment Services. “He brings extraordinary intelligence, judgment and acumen to this role through his extensive knowledge of the financial services industry and insights into global capital markets. John’s background gives him a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and products and services in the corporate trust and custody market. John is a relatable and empathetic leader who builds and develops strong teams and epitomises the values of U.S. Bank. I am thrilled he is joining our team.” 

Stern is succeeding Joseph Giordano as president of Global Corporate Trust and Custody. Giordano announced his plans to retire this summer. Giordano has been with U.S. Bank since 2010 and has played a critical role in building and growing the global corporate trust business, including the expansion of the company’s CDO business. 

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