Philippines’ UnionBank Joins JP Morgan-Led Blockchain Network

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UnionBank of the Philippines (UBP) has joined JP Morgan’s Interbank Information Network (IIN), which comprises 75 lenders worldwide and aims to provide a live blockchain service to speed up payment systems.

The US-based banking giant said in a statement that IIN is capable of reducing the time correspondent banks typically spend on data-related queries and compliance. The network is powered by Ethereum-based blockchain Quorum.

Emma Loftus, who oversees global payments and receivables at JP Morgan Treasury Services, commented:

“We saw tremendous interest among correspondent banks after the pilot launched in 2017, asking if they could join. We believe IIN will significantly improve the efficiency of cross-border payments, particularly as more banks participate and we evolve the functionality and use cases beyond compliance-related inquiries.”

JP Morgan Treasury Services head Takis Georgakopoulos said the bank had been “actively exploring” ways to incorporate emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain so that “an enhanced digital experience can be deployed in our treasury services business to better serve our clients’ ever-changing needs.”

UBP is so far the only Philippines-based bank to join the initiative. It is at the forefront of blockchain adoption in the country, aggressively implementing disruptive technology in its internal communications and even launching the first general circulars (GCs) on a blockchain platform for faster and cheaper distribution of information to employees.

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The bank has also launched Project i2i (Project island-to-island), an Ethereum-based blockchain initiative that involved five rural banks in a pilot on real-time retail payments. The project started with the participation of Cantilan Bank, PR Savings Bank, City Savings Bank, FairBank, and Progressive Bank under a plan to bring millions of unbanked Filipinos into the financial network by linking rural banks to the country’s central financial system.

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