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Visa’s B2B Connect platform officially launched

Visa’s blockchain-powered non-card business-to-business payments service, B2B Connect, has been officially launched.

Visa B2B Connect, designed for high-value corporate cross-border payments, was first made public in October 2016 and was first rolled out in a pilot phase to test bank-to-bank connections just over a year later.

The payments giant originally teamed with blockchain start-up Chain to deliver the product, with the aim of improving B2B payments through a system offering near real-time notification and finality of payment aligned with an immutable system of record over a permissioned private blockchain.

Visa participated in Chain’s US$30 million funding round in September 2015, which attracted some of the financial sector’s biggest names. More recently, the payments giant has more recently turned to Hyperledger Fabric for the distributed ledger technology (DLT) side of the system, with assistance from IBM, although Visa says that the network is 0nly partly based on a distributed ledger.

The group has also signed deals with FIS and Bottomline Technologies to bring the platform to bank clients and compete effectively with interbank funds transfer network Swift and other emerging challengers such as Ripple.

Eliminating friction

Visa B2B Connect is serving more than 30 global trade corridors at its launch and aims to triple this number to 90 markets by the end of 2019.

The service aims to help Visa’s corporate clients sidestep the slow correspondent banking network, opening up near instant international payments.

“By creating a solution that facilitates direct, bank to bank transactions, we are eliminating friction associated with key industry pain points,” Kevin Phalen, SVP, global head of Visa Business Solutions, told Reuters.

“With Visa B2B Connect, we are making payments quicker and simpler, while enhancing transparency and consistency of data.”

He added that although the network is not fully based on a distributed ledger, the technology has been used for some elements as it allows more payment information than traditional systems.

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