Visa Testing Blockchain for International Payments
Trials are being planned between several international banks in a challenge to the existing Swift payment system.

Blockchain technology may make credit card payments cheaper and safer.

That’s the aim of a pilot program Visa Europe is launching with BTL Group, an effort billed as “a first-of-its-kind blockchain-based settlement system.”

Visa Europe announced its search for banking partners to participate in a “proof of concept” for international transactions using BTL’s interbit distributed-ledger technology.

Hendrik Kleinsmiede, Co-Founder and Innovation Partner, at Visa Europe Collab, wants to test international payments over blockchain technology between a hand-picked series of banks across different countries, to see if credit risk and transfer time can be reduced without compromising security.

“For me the opportunity is a fascinating and potentially very beneficial one,” writes Kleinsmiede. “Through the use of smart contracts and blockchains I believe we can create a fast, compliant and low-cost interbank payment and settlement service, with embedded regional compliance.”

Blockchain is a distributed ledger that keeps copies of every transaction made. One advantage is security – each transaction depends on the previous one. Amending previous entries requires the consent of all participants.

According to the Financial Times, if the project succeeds, it could present a threat to Swift, a 43-year-old interbank messaging system that handles 30 million requests a day.

Moving money cross-border can take at least three working days with Swift, and the system has been subject to its own security problems: earlier this year, malware was used to seal $81 million from the Bangladesh Bank through Swift – the hackers were only prevented from stealing more when a spelling mistake in a request prompted Deutsche Bank to investigate.