By G9ija

Interswitch Group, a Pan-African integrated digital payments and commerce company, in partnership with Microsoft, has announced the launch of its innovative blockchain-based supply chain financing service.

This novel initiative brings together entrepreneurs, major financial institutions and corporate organizations, all on a single platform to provide end-to-end visibility that will ensure fast and seamless trade financing in supply chain operations.

The Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain FinanceModule), built and hosted using the Microsoft Azure Blockchain technology, provides a proven security, compliance and scalable cloud platform that accelerates and supports the next generation of blockchain applications.

Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch said: “In our 15 years of operation, we have experienced the bottle necks associated with the existing corporate-based financing infrastructure in Nigeria. 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 him, 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 (up to three weeks) 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.

He clarified that while the application of blockchain was usually associated with cryptocurrency, the Interswitch Blockchain service did not deploy the use of cryptocurrency in its application, explaining that 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 Corporation, said: “We are excited about this partnership with Interswitch. 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. The blockchain technology is still in its infancy in Nigeria and we are happy to pioneer its deployment in partnership with Interswitch, an innovative and forward-thinking company which has evolved its business around financial technology”

He said the Interswitch Blockchain Service, armed with a single version of the truth across the supply chain, allowed 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.

“Interswitch, in collaboration with Microsoft, has built a platform that will allow anyone to build blockchain-based solutions easily and more cost effectively. It is truly blockchain for everyone with lower costs and shorter time.” Mitchell said.

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