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Indian blockchain consortium BankChain’s members test KYC, AML/CTF platform ‘Clear-Chain’

BankChain, a blockchain consortium initiative by Indian banking majors, has completed the work on its first blockchain project, The Times of India reported.

Announced earlier this year, BankChain is India’s first Blockchain exploration consortium for banks and includes State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI, and DCB Bank among others. The consortium has been formed in collaboration with blockchain startup Primechain Technologies.

The consortium’s first project – Clear-Chain (c2) – is a permissioned blockchain for integrated and shared KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML/CFT (Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing). The Version 1.0 alpha 1 of Clear-Chain was released on 27 April 2017. It allows sharing of KYC data, investigation reports, suspicious transaction reports, and cross-border wire transfer reports.

According to the official website, records are available to all members as soon as they are entered into Clear-Chain. The platform also has a “regulator node” which provides regulators with granular access to c2 data. The subsequent alpha and beta versions are yet to be announced.

"The benefits of blockchain technology grow exponentially as the number of collaborators increase. That's why we can see traditional competitors like banks and insurance companies forming consortia to explore a new technology. Once implemented, the benefits of blockchain technology include maximization of efficiency, security & transparency and minimization of fraud," said Shinam Arora, CEO, Primechain Technologies, as quoted by TOI.

Clear-Chain is currently being tested by member banks. In addition to Clear-Chain, the consortium is also exploring blockchain applicability in other areas including syndication of loans, trade finance, asset registry & asset re-hypothecation, secure documents, cross-border payments, peer-to-peer payments, and blockchain Security Controls.

"We are exploring how blockchain can help in reducing fraud where a borrower takes a loan against the same asset from multiple banks. We are also looking at inward remittances and the use of blockchain as an alternative to systems like SWIFT. We will first look at INR payments where FEMA regulations are not involved," said Sudin Baraokar, head, innovation, SBI, as quoted by TOI.

SBI has four dedicated resources working with BankChain. Baraokar said that they want to develop the largest blockchain platform in the world and are establishing a Collaborative Innovation Centre.

"We have launched SBI National Hackathon for startups and developers who are working in emerging technologies like blockchain, artifical intelligence, machine learning. For blockchain in particular, we will not get fruition without the involvement of other banks," he added.

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