The goal of the R3 Consortium to form a global partnership to design and apply blockchain’s distributed and shared ledger-inspired technologies to financial markets got a boost as it adds its first African institution to its membership.

South Africa’s Absa Bank Ltd, a member of the Barclays Africa Group Limited, is the first African banking group to join the global R3 blockchain consortium which has already partnered with some of the world's leading banks to design and deliver advanced distributed ledger technologies to global financial markets.

Absa will collaborate with other SA banks

The membership will enhance Absa’s collaboration with several other South African banks to develop the continent’s first distributed ledger-based banking solution. The aim of this working group, according to the bank, will be to build blockchain-based solutions that address common financial services needs, with the resulting intellectual property being shared by all participating banks.

Joining the likes of China’s largest insurer, Ping An, Spain’s BBVA,Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Royal Bank of Scotland, Japan’s Toyota Financial Services and Brazil’s Bank Itaú, the diversity of the group would be enhanced by Absa’s addition.

Andrew Baker, CIO for Corporate and Investment Banking at Barclays Africa, says on the bank’s website:

“We see huge potential for financial institutions in Africa to embrace disruptive technologies like blockchain, and use them to empower individuals and improve the lives of their customers. However, its true value will only be realised if we work together to co-develop and share solutions to common problems.

Blockchain is still maturing and has yet to gain the trust of financial institutions and consumers alike. But if and when it happens, widespread adoption will happen quickly. Change is currently focused on disruptive innovation but will become more mainstream as industry alliances such as R3 and regulatory acceptance grows.”

To highlight that the Barclays Africa has been experimenting with blockchain for some time, Baker cited that that bank launched an Africa-wide blockchain Supply Chain Challenge through its Rise innovation initiative in 2015 and co-hosted the second Blockchain and Bitcoin Africa Conference this year.

Andrew Baker, CIO at Barclays Africa