Alibaba subsidiary Ant Financial, which recently scored $14 billion in funding, is setting up a blockchain-based payment system to settle cross-border payments. The company announced the new platform during a press conference in Hong Kong on Monday, adding that it will initially be available for transactions between Hong Kong and the Philippines before being rolled out to other areas.
Ant Financial’s AlipayHK service will be integrated with GCash, a mobile payment service located in the Philippines, using the blockchain. The new platform will ultimately allow users to send funds directly without the need for intermediaries. The result will be transaction settlements that take only seconds, as opposed to days or weeks.
According to a translated article on Tencent, Ant Financial chairman and CEO Jing Xiandong discussed the new system in his “Review of International Financial Rewards Based on Blockchain Technology.” He said that the company is looking for three things: “[To] use blockchains to solve practical problems that have social value; continue to overcome the technological barriers of blockchains to large-scale practical applications; and jointly build open blockchain ecosystems with partners.”
Xiandong also pointed out three aspects of blockchain that the company wants to avoid. He said, “…Do not make ‘air coins’ without any real value; don’t do technical applications that violate laws and regulations; do nothing to harm user data security and privacy.”
GCash is a mobile-based “virtual wallet” that allows individuals to make purchases, send or receive money and pay bills. Money transfers are possible between users of GCash using just the users’ cell phone numbers, making it a quick and easy solution for Filipinos.
Standard Charter, a financial institution that has already begun participation in another blockchain-based cross-border payment solution with Thai banks, will operate as the banking partner for the new platform.
According to statistics there are around 200,000 Filipino domestic employees in Hong Kong. This accounts for 3% of the city’s population and the majority of them currently use international money transfer companies to send money to their families in the Philippines.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma has always been a strong supporter of blockchains. Through Ant Financial, the company is already involved in a number of projects based on the technology and the newly received funding will help it expand its involvement even more.
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