Bringing Financial Innovation to the South Pacific

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Have you ever tried sending money to family and friends overseas? Despite our increasingly global society, cross-border payments can still be a time-consuming and costly process.

About half of the world’s international payments include major global currencies and flow through key banking corridors, where inter-bank processes are well-established and work reasonably efficiently. However, for the other half of global payments, this process can be disjointed, clumsy and inefficient. The beautiful but remote Polynesian islands in the South Pacific, where KlickEx works, are well outside our major global banking corridors.

New Zealand enjoys close ties with our South Pacific neighbours and plays an essential role in the Pacific economy, with many people choosing to live and work in New Zealand to financially support their families back home.   

In the 90’s I saw first-hand the need to to help Pacific Island nations including Fiji, Samoa,
Tonga and Vanuatu improve their financial infrastructure.  I established KlickEx to streamline and simplify international payments and money transfers - we have pioneered the use of mobile apps and other emerging technologies to provide convenient, low-cost and accessible solutions to help Pacific communities with banking transactions.

Our app users send money overseas instantly at the click of a button; what they don’t see is the web of communication that happens in the background across banks and other intermediaries to enable and secure that transaction. In some international markets, it can take days for cross-border payments to clear.

This week we’ve helped take cross-border payments technology to the next level. In Toronto at Sibos 2017, the premier global event for the financial services industry, IBM announced a universal blockchain payments solution in collaboration with technology partners KlickEx and Stellar.org. We’re working together on this new solution that allows payment instructions and settlement to happen in near real-time on the same network using IBM Blockchain.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a permanent digitised chain of transactions that are grouped in “blocks,” and cannot be altered once data is entered. With the potential to vastly reduce the cost and complexity of completing transactions, blockchain makes it easier to create efficient business networks where virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded, without requiring a central point of control. Each participant has an exact copy of the data, and updates to the blockchain are shared throughout the network based on each participant’s level of permission. This way, all participants in an interaction have a shared view of the truth governed by consensus that reflects the most recent transactions or changes.

The South Pacific Region was the perfect choice for IBM to launch the initiative – outside the major currency trading corridors, across a mix of both emerging and mature economies, and with relatively low transaction volumes – and of course, the ability to leverage KlickEx’s trusted system and infrastructure.

KlickEx is a pioneer in leading technological innovation and sees the potential for blockchain in emerging economies.  This is the first time it is working at scale to create seamless and borderless payments across the Pacific.

I’m delighted that KlickEx is working in collaboration with the IBM Blockchain payments solution and alongside Stellar on this exciting world first – and seeing New Zealand and the Pacific continue to lead the way in payments innovation.

Hopefully, the next time you need to transfer money to another country, whether it’s within the South Pacific or anywhere else, it’s a much quicker, faster and more efficient process.