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Microsoft Partners with Interswitch to Launch New Blockchain-Powered Supply Chain Financing Platform in Nigeria

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Interswitch

Pan-African payments and commerce company, Interswitch Group, partnered with Microsoft to launch a new blockchain-backed supply chain financing service in Nigeria.

Seamless Supply Chain Financing

This new blockchain initiative will bring together different stakeholders – such as banks and corporations – on a single platform that will provide end-to-end visibility, ensuring fast, seamless trade financing in supply chain operations.

Interswitch Blockchain Service is said to be built and hosted using the Microsoft Azure blockchain solution, which provides proven security, compliance and also a scalable cloud platform that accelerates and supports next generation blockchain applications. 

Interswitch“In our 15 years of operation, we have experienced the bottlenecks associated with the existing corporate-based financing infrastructure in Nigeria.” Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch, said.

“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,” he added.

Launching the Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain Finance Module) allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to more funding in a shorter time of up to three weeks. The participating banks include United Bank for Africa Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, and Zenith Bank Plc.

SMEs will also be able to enjoy increased sales cycles from participating corporations such as the Dangote Group.

Transaction Enquiries and Verifications

The Interswitch Blockchain Service does not deploy the use of cryptocurrency in its application. Instead, transaction inquiries and verifications will be authorised by officials from participating entities without the incentives of a cryptocurrency.

Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Azure Blockchain at Microsoft Corporation, Michael Glaros, expressed excitement about the partnership with Interswitch. Glaros said: “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.”

“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 corporates globally,” Glaros added.

The Interswitch Blockchain Service, allows Nigerian lenders and suppliers to identify and build relationships with high performing entrepreneurs. Therefore, according to Mitchell, the platform allows anyone to build blockchain-based solutions easily and more cost-effectively.

Blockchain Technology

Linum Labs Announces Decentralised Healthcare R&D Funding Platform ‘Molecule’

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Molecule Platform

Blockchain development company Linum Labs has announced the launch of a decentralised open-source funding platform to fast-track innovation in pharma called Molecule.

The Molecule Platform

Linum LabsLinum Labs, which deals with blockchain-based solutions in healthcare and identity, has created the Molecule platform in order to bring together industry, patients, and scientists in an open collaborative market where drug development can be advanced.

The open platform allows participants to contribute funds towards drug development, thereby, achieving Lunum Labs’ goal of distributing cost and risk.

To achieve this, Linum Labs is leveraging blockchain technology and open science to build a fair and accountable market-based platform for the research and funding of pharmaceutical intellectual property.

The Decentralised Answer to the Pharma Research Monopoly

Molecule aims to solve the problem of the monopolisation of research in the pharmaceutical industry, reduced trust, and the expensive, risky, and slow nature of drug development.

Paul Kohlhaas, CEO of Linum Labs, stated: “The pharmaceutical industry faces an innovation crisis caused by the challenges around drug development and the monopolisation of IP. Bringing a drug to market is a high-cost, high-risk, and slow endeavour, and it is generally large organisations that single-handedly shoulder these burdens, leading to massively inflated prices and a lack of innovation.”

Molecule solves these challenges by offering a low-friction crowdsourcing research and funding platform that reduces risk to investors and IP creators in an inclusive environment.

“Molecule enables new economic incentive models for distributed R&D that leverage open science, Web3 and bonding curves to create a fair and accountable market-based platform for the discovery and funding of pharmaceutical IP. The ecosystem aims to align all stakeholders to collaborate in order to move away from environments where only ‘blockbuster drugs’ get approved for development, and towards a more patient-focused approach,” Kohlhaas added.

Development

Molecule

Linum Labs AG started building Molecule in early 2018 on behalf of Swiss non-profit, the Molecule Foundation.

The next stage of “development will include further iterations of the initial proof-of-concept, leading into a minimum viable product,” Linum Labs writes in a statement. This stage will be backed by a financial round that will begin in the second quarter of 2019.

Linum Labs is presently hiring and looking for partners to back the Molecule platform.

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Raise Launches Africa’s First Security Token Platform

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Raise Token Security Platform
Images by Raise

On February 14, 2019, financial technology company Raise announced the launch of the alpha version of its security token platform that is being developed with the aim to tokenise assets in Africa.

The Raise Token Security Platform

The token security platform by Raise is the first security token product to be developed and launched in the African continent.

RaiseA security token is a digital representation of a real-world financial asset such as a land title or share certificate that is built with blockchain-based technology. This makes them very secure digital assets that ease fundraising, lower the costs of cross-border transfers and compliance.

According to the company press release, Raise is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool built for funds, law firms and companies to securely digitise partnership units, share certificates, and real estate assets. The platform is able to develop customised digital securities that can be programmed with key performance indicators, custom data and limited partnership or shareholder information.

The co-founders of Raise, CEO Marvin H. Coleby and CTO Eugene Mutai, made the announcement at the annual Africa Tech Summit that was held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Growing Potential for Private Markets

Coleby, an entrepreneur and securities lawyer from the Bahamas, emphasised the potential for more accessible and liquid private markets by saying:

“Today, it’s difficult to move shares between funds and companies. Navigating regulatory requirements, tracking securities ownership and raising financing can be difficult. We have to check and verify a multitude of complex requirements and documents to move assets that many of us already own. This makes private markets expensive and slow to operate – it can take weeks to transfer shares between consenting parties. As a result, private markets are not nearly as liquid as public markets, immobilizing assets and restricting financial inclusion. Blockchain technologies can encode compliance requirements and ease document processes that make private markets difficult to navigate.”

“We’re excited to contribute to a global movement to simplify private markets and securities innovation with this new product and look forward to further development updates this year. This is especially true on the African continent, we strongly believe that fluid and efficient capital markets can create enormous wealth for millions of people and transform intra-African trade,” he added.

Future Plans

The Raise’s platform is mainly targeting the private capital markets sector and is currently working with a list of companies, law firms and private funds to officially launch its platform later in 2019.

So far, Raise has partnered with Africa Legal Network that is an association of 16 corporate law firms to develop a continental regulatory framework for security tokens. The partnership led to the launch of the African Digital Asset Framework, which is an open-source project designed to create standards for blockchain technologies.

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HelloGold and Baobab Group Partner to Boost Financial Inclusion in Africa

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HelloGold and Baobab Group

Malaysian fintech savings platform HelloGold has partnered with Baobab Group to boost financial inclusion in Africa. The partnership will help the Asia-based company to enter the African market where it will offer financial products alongside Baobab.

The HelloGold and Baobab Group Partnership

BaobabHelloGold will leverage Baobab’s infrastructure and experience in offering digital financial services while bringing on board its gold-backed savings and products, according to DigitalNewsAsia. Moreover, the partnership will enable Baobab to scale its financial inclusion services on the continent via an integrated savings platform.

The integrated savings platform will enable users to purchase, invest, and save in gold via a mobile app. The use of the mobile app will make gold an easily accessible and secure savings option for customers.

Baobab currently operates in nine African countries, has 1,140 functional service points across Africa and has distributed over $1.1 billion loans to micro businesses, women, and the youth.

Arnaud Ventura, Baobab’s Group chief executive officer and founder, said: “We are pleased to announce this partnership, which will allow our clients to benefit from new digital services. The possibility to easily save and invest in gold is an additional key offered to our clients to unleash their potential. This collaboration with HelloGold will allow us to integrate this savings offer in the nine African countries we are working with.”

“Our partnership with Baobab demonstrates HelloGold’s capacity to provide financial solutions for our current and prospective partners. While we bring financial products on our technology, we support our partners in the building of their own offerings, providing differentiated value and services on their platforms,” HelloGold’s CEO Robin Lee commented in a statement.

Baobab enables its customers in Africa and China to manage their finances instantly, safely, and easily with its digital and mobile solutions. HelloGold offers its customers the opportunity to purchase and sell gold via an app. The physical gold is stored in secure and insured vaults in Singapore and it can be used as collateral for loans or as savings.

According to Lee, HelloGold applies blockchain technology in its financial products to make them affordable to customers.

Future Plans

HelloGoldHelloGold plans to establish gold vaults in Dubai and to offer its products in Indonesia and the Middle East this year. The company also recently launched in Thailand.

With mobile-driven financial inclusion in Africa on the rise, the two companies are positioning themselves to tap into the opportunities of the growing digital financial sector on the continent.

According to the World Bank Findex survey, financial inclusion grew from 23 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2017 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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