How blockchain is enabling financial inclusion for 70 million unbanked Filipinos

In the Philippines, an estimated 56 per cent of citizens have limited access to the modern financial ecosystem. To solve this crisis, Union Bank and ConsenSys have developed a blockchain platform that connects rural banks.

In today's interconnected economy, electronic banking has become a necessity. Whether you want to check your balance, manage your bills or transfer money, you have access right at your fingertips.

But for many countries around the world, they simply lack the infrastructure to enable modern financial services. With 55 per cent of its 100 million population living in rural areas, the Philippines is a great example.

Although there are over 400 regulated rural banks across the Philippines, a staggering 56 per cent of Filipinos have limited access to the financial ecosystem. These banks not only lack electronic banking services but are disconnected from domestic and international money transfer networks.

To address this growing issue, Union Bank and ConsenSys have teamed up on a new partnership called Project i2i. They're using blockchain technology to achieve financial inclusion for 70 million unbanked Filipinos and streamline the country's existing banking system.

Simplifying a complex financial system

Launched in 2018, Project i2i is a payment network that runs on Enterprise Ethereum. It's been designed to enable and facilitate transaction through tokenised cash supported by flat currency. The technology allows participating banks to instruct and settle remittances, consolidating the messaging, execution and accounting of transactions.

Claudio Lisco, solutions venture architect for Project i2i, explains: "In this use case, Project i2i is taking advantage of blockchain to create a decentralised, cost-efficient and near real-time payment network that will not rely on existing payment infrastructure and intermediaries, such as the Philippines' PhilPass or SWIFT. The platform distributes across network participants (i.e. financial institutions such as commercial, thrift, coop and rural banks) the ability to issue tokenised cash and process transactions."

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