SAN FRANCISCO — Credit card giant Visa has launched its blockchain-powered business-to-business payments service B2B Connect.
B2B Connect can now be used by businesses seeking to make payments to 30 markets, with 90 more expected to be added by the end of this year. To start, it’s available for B2B transactions of $15,000 and up, which represents a roughly 10% chunk of the $125 trillion cross-border market. Visa says B2B Connect makes these payments faster, cheaper and more transparent.
“By creating a solution that facilitates direct, bank to bank transactions, we are eliminating friction associated with key industry pain points,” said Kevin Phalen, global head of Visa Business Solutions.
Right now, most cross-border payments are done through Swift, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a Belgian organization that counts 11,000 financial institutions as members. But Swifts’s system is painfully slow and inefficient.
Because few banks are connected directly to each other, a payment that originates in Dallas and is bound for Beijing might have to stop at banks in New York, London or Hong Kong before reaching its final destination, with each bank extracting a fee. It’s also difficult to track the transfer’s progress and predict how much it will cost, including the foreign exchange rate.
Visa says B2B Connect’s distributed ledger software facilitates direct bank connections. Financial institutions can see payment fees upfront. Transactions settle quicker, in one to two days. And foreign exchange fees are fully transparent.
Visa used Hyperledger Fabric, the blockchain software developed in part by IBM and hosted by Linux. The network’s unique digital identity feature tokenizes an organization’s sensitive business information, such as banking details and account numbers, giving them a unique identifier that can be used to facilitate transactions on the network. Visa’s product isn’t decentralized, since the payments giant has complete control over it.
Visa is the world’s leader in digital payments.