IBM has officially dipped its toes in the cross-border payments pool, having brought its long-awaited Blockchain World Wire payments system out of beta testing.
According to the computing multinational’s website, the Stellar-powered system will be used by financial institutions settling cross-border payments “in near-real-time,” purportedly offering a faster, cheaper replacement for the banking intermediaries of today.
Where current systems involve a series of third-parties to clear and settle payments, digital assets are held up as the crown jewels of the computing giant’s new solution—serving as an “agreed-upon store of value” for parties to transact in and sparing time, costs and inefficiencies, according to IBM. Thus, said digital assets could effectively serve as a “bridge” to manifest fiat currency from Bank A into fiat currency at Bank B.
When it comes to Blockchain World Wire’s transactable assets, IBM gave few specifics. However, judging by their description of the system, volatility appears to be the deciding factor. The company noted:
“Two financial institutions transacting together agree to use a stablecoin, central bank digital currency or other digital asset as the bridge asset between any two fiat currencies. The digital asset facilitates the trade and supplies important settlement instructions.”
IBM’s newfangled network will likely cross paths with a burgeoning list of blockchain-based efforts to remodel the banking system. Namely, the monolithic Ripple, which has resided in the top-five by market capitalization for years by offering similar products–xCurrent and xRapid.
Ripple may have claimed a healthy slice of the cross-border payments pie; yet, IBM appears to see room for movement in backing the underdog. In July, for example, IBM backed Stellar-based Stronghold’s stablecoin project, and IBM’s latest venture could put any doubts about the company’s interest in Stellar, the sixth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, to rest.
Where the move would stretch the roots of the Stellar network, XLM holders hoping for a boost in transaction volumes may have to look elsewhere. The Stellar protocol does serve as the engine powering Blockchain World Wire; however, IBM has offered no promises that Stellar’s native token will be given preference.
Cover Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash