Barclays subsidiary Absa Bank becomes first Africa member of R3 Blockchain consortium


Absa Bank Ltd, the South African subsidiary of leading global banking group Barclays PLC (LON:BARC), has joined financial innovation firm R3’s partnership to design and apply distributed and shared ledger-inspired technologies to global financial markets.

Absa, which is the first bank in Africa to join the consortium, will be working with over 50 of the world’s leading banks to design and deliver advanced distributed ledger technologies to global financial markets.

On the back of its membership, Absa will also be working towards developing a collaborative working group with R3 and other South African banks to develop Africa’s first distributed ledger-based banking solution. The aim of this working group will be to build blockchain-based solutions that address common financial services needs, with the resulting intellectual property being shared by all participating banks.

David Rutter, R3
David Rutter, R3

David Rutter, CEO of R3, commented:

The addition of Absa marks another significant milestone for R3 as we continue to expand the global presence of our consortium. Africa is a key market for us and we look forward to collaborating with Absa to develop distributed and shared ledger technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the infrastructure across global financial markets.

Andrew Baker, CIO for Corporate and Investment Banking at Barclays Africa, says: “We see huge potential for financial institutions in Africa to embrace disruptive technologies like blockchain, and use them to empower individuals and improve the lives of their customers. However, its true value will only be realised if we work together to co-develop and share solutions to common problems.

“R3 has made significant breakthroughs in this field to explore and test how the technology can be best adopted by financial institutions, and we believe widespread adoption will happen quickly. Change is currently focused on disruptive innovation but will become more mainstream as industry alliances such as R3 and regulatory acceptance grows.”

Baker adds: “Barclays Africa has been experimenting with blockchain for some time. In mid-2015 we launched an Africa-wide blockchain supply chain challenge through our Rise open innovation platform. We also co-hosted the second Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference in February this year, and we currently have over ten blockchain-based experiments and research initiatives that are being piloted within the bank.”

James Scott, Head of Digital, Corporate and Investment Bank for Barclays Africa, comments: “We have been watching this space closely and the client and product use cases in the corporate and investment bank are starting to look really interesting. We look forward to working with R3 to fully explore these applications.”

Ashley Veasey, CIO for Barclays Africa, comments: “While this initiative is probably the first of its kind in terms of technology innovation within financial services in Africa, such collaboration is critical to unlocking the value that blockchain could hold for trade in Africa.”

Absa joins the global network of R3 partners united in its lab environment, the R3 Lab and Research Centre, which has quickly become a center of gravity for collaborative research and testing of distributed and shared-ledger inspired technologies.

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