Egyptian National Bank Turns to Blockchain to Boost Remittance Business

The National Bank of Egypt has signed a cooperation agreement with Ripple to establish new channels for inward remittances, according to a Feb. 11 report from local daily news site Youm7.

Another major financial institution has partnered with blockchain-based payments firm Ripple.

The agreement reportedly makes the National Bank the country’s first to venture into the blockchain sector.

Remittances: an almost $600 billion global market

The global remittance market – referring to the money or goods that migrants send back to family and friends in their home countries – is expected to reach $597 billion in 2020, according to data from the World Bank.

Egypt was projected to be the fifth highest remittance recipient country worldwide in 2019 ($26.4 billion), following India, China, Mexico and the Philippines.

By joining the RippleNet network – which includes over 300 international banks and institutions – the National Bank ostensibly hopes to access new markets, and to support and extend its remittance business in the Gulf region in particular.

National Bank Chair Dalia El-Baz said he expects RippleNet to grow exponentially and to thus provide a boost to the institution’s liquidity management and foreign currency earrings.

In accessing faster and more efficient cross-border payments mechanisms, the National Bank hopes to broaden its customer base, while assuring users of full compliance with international insurance standards and high levels of operational network security on the blockchain.

In signing up to RippleNet, the Egyptian bank joins other correspondent banks and market participants in the Arab Gulf states, as well as institutions in financial hubs such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

As of press time, Ripple’s native token XRP is trading at roughly $0.29, up 6.15% on the day, and almost 11% on the week, according to Cointelegraph’s XRP Price Index.

Blockchain remittances at the start of 2020

In the wider blockchain remittances sector, news has recently broken that the Hong Kong-based blockchain remittance startup Bitspark is halting services, citing internal restructuring issues.

One of the firm’s co-founders cited issues that had ostensibly been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak in China, as well as anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

At the start of the year, Thailand’s oldest bank, Siam Commercial Bank, partnered with Ripple to create a mobile application powered by blockchain that will deliver instant, low-cost cross-border payments.

Circle Continues Sell-offs as Voyager Digital Acquires Investment App

Despite ongoing bullish movement in crypto markets, Circle continues to sell off wings of its business.

Circle, a Goldman Sachs-backed crypto startup that launched USD-pegged stablecoin USDC, has agreed to sell its digital asset investment app Circle Invest to Voyager Digital Canada, the operator of digital asset broker Voyager.

Circle Invest customers to be moved to the Voyager Platform by the end of March 2020

As part of the acquisition, Voyager will be integrating features of Circle’s new stablecoin platform service into the Voyager Platform, the company announced on Feb. 12. Voyager will also expand its client base to over 200,000 global users by adding 40,000 retail accounts with the transaction.

According to the announcement, the majority of Circle Invest customers are expected to move to the Voyager Platform by the end of March 2020. Following the exchange, Circle and Voyager will partner on strategic business initiatives to deliver low-cost payments to the combined Voyager customer base.

Voyager claims to provide Circle Invest clients with zero-fee trading for 30 coins

Additionally, Circle Invest’s retail customers will now have access to a number of Voyager’s brokerage services such as zero-fee trading for more than 30 crypto assets, the company said. Rachel Mayer, director of product management at Circle, noted that the firm is excited to provide Circle Invest customers with a “broader depth of retail investment features.” Mayer said:

“This transition comes at a time when Circle is launching new platform services and products for businesses around the world to help them bring the benefits of stablecoins into their products and grow global commerce in new and innovative ways.”

On top of that, Voyager will issue common shares to Circle representing around 4% ownership stake. At press time, one share of Voyager (VYGR) is trading at 0.4 CAD ($0.3), up about 1.3% over the past 24 hours, according to data from TradingView.

Voyager declined to provide additional information such as the actual number of shares involved in the transaction to Cointelegraph. We also contacted Circle for additional comments on the matter but did not receive an immediate response. This story will be updated should they respond.

Acquisition comes after Circle sold and halted other projects

Circle was founded by Jeremy Allaire and Sean Neville in 2013 with the mission to bring Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to the mainstream. The company has been apparently restructuring its business lately as Circle also sold its over-the-counter desk to major United States-based crypto exchange Kraken in December 2019 in order to focus on its stablecoin.

Prior to that, Circle was reported on getting a new CEO, with co-founder and former co-CEO Neville transitioning to a role on the firm’s board of directors. After purchasing crypto exchange Poloniex in 2018, Circle announced it was selling the exchange in October 2019.

Previously, Circle halted its weekly crypto market research product Circle Research and terminated payment app Circle Pay, claiming that it wanted to focus on digital currency adoption through Poloniex.

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