Hedera makes inroads in Africa as Standard Bank Group becomes node operator

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Standard Bank Group — Africa’s largest bank by assets — has partnered with enterprise-grade distributed ledger technology project Hedera Hashgraph.

According to a joint announcement, the African banking giant now joins other major corporations like Google, LG, and IBM as a member of the Hedera Governing Council.

Standard Bank will also become a Hedera node operator, the first in Africa with a focus on utilizing DLT to ease bottlenecks in cross-border trade on the continent.

Across Africa, innovations in domestic payment rails have created faster and efficient transaction systems. However, this advancement is yet to translate to the cross-border payment transaction scene with stablecoins already identified as having the potential to solve these issues.

For Ian Putter, head of DLT and blockchain at Standard Bank Group, the partnership with Hedera is part of the bank’s focus on utilizing decentralized technology to improve cross-border trade in Africa.

Putter told Cointelegraph that the bank views DLT as a viable base-layer for supporting cross-border in Africa and also connect the continent to partners in major markets like China, adding:

“We have completed [proofs of concept]have solutions in production and are partnering with these parties to scale and exploit these cross-border trade solutions. A key focus for us is to continue exploration and experimentation with this technology as it rapidly evolves, through partnerships and leveraging existing solutions to speed up implementation and scaling.”

Putter highlighted the growing interest in central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, as a pointer to the potential for DLT-based technology to disrupt the global business process.

According to Hedera CEO Mance Harmon, Africa is poised to occupy a leading role in DLT utilization, telling Cointelegraph:

“With services like M-Pesa already widely used, we see a willingness for African companies to embrace new technologies like blockchain and distributed ledger technology to meet the changing needs of their customers. In addition to financial services/DeFi, we also see strong interest from companies in the region in leveraging DLT for use cases in healthcare, energy management, identity, and supply chains.”