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Deutsche Bank and SC Ventures by Standard Chartered Bank Complete First Digital Currency Transfer and Swap on the Universal Digital Payments Network

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Today, two major international financial institutions, Standard Chartered Bank via its innovation, fintech and ventures arm SC Ventures in Singapore, and Deutsche Bank in Germany have completed the first Universal Digital Payments Network (UDPN) proof-of-concept (PoC), executing real-time on-chain transfer and swap test transactions between USDC and EURS stablecoins on the UDPN infrastructure. 

As part of this first PoC, SC Ventures set up a development environment and leveraged UDPN SDKs and APIs to create decentralized identities and linked digital currency wallets. Upon completing the onboarding process, SC Ventures initiated multiple transfers and swaps of synthetic USDC and EURS to digital currency wallets of Deutsche Bank. These transactions were signed with SC Ventures’ private key, completed in real time and visible on public EtherScan (etherscan.io). In parallel, Deutsche Bank initiated multiple transfers and swaps to SC Ventures’ digital currency accounts via a graphical user interface (UI) integrated within their dedicated UDPN environment. Both financial institutions relied on UDPN business nodes to connect to the UDPN permissioned DLT consensus network. The payment messages were executed via two transaction nodes, one supporting USDC transactions and the second transaction node supporting EURS transactions. These real-time transactions demonstrate how UDPN can execute cross-border transactions in minutes instead of days, based on a highly scalable architecture and removing the challenges of interoperability between different technologies within the digital currency environment.

The first in the series of 12 PoCs, the Digital Currency Transfer and Swap PoC was executed over a period of several weeks to display how UDPN solves the challenge of interoperability in cross-border payments. Learnings around Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), digital assets, key custody, compliance, and other related subjects were discussed and documented over the course of the PoC. The PoC plays a vital role in shaping the success of the UDPN and fosters greater understanding and collaboration among stakeholders. The knowledge sharing and contribution from financial institutions and technology participants will contribute to ensuring seamless functionality and performance upon the commercialization in late 2023.

Future of money

Announced in Davos during the World Economic Forum week in January, UDPN is a distributed ledger technology (DLT) underpinned messaging backbone that provides interoperability between the fast-growing number of regulated stablecoins and CBDCs to enable seamless connectivity between any business IT system and regulated digital currencies. The network was developed with contributions from global IT engineering and solutions provider GFT, decentralised cloud infrastructure company Red Date Technology, and tier 1 financial service providers. The UDPN Alliance is currently running a series of 12 PoCs with multiple global banks, technology companies, and payment service providers that allow participants to explore different use cases and scenarios. 

The UDPN Alliance believes that the future of money is digital, sovereign, and regulated – but it is widely recognised that much of today’s payments infrastructure is analogue, fragmented, and expensive. Digital money will make cross-border transactions simpler, cheaper, and faster – and it is expected to become increasingly integrated with the regulated financial system as its use grows in consumer and wholesale payments. UDPN is a gateway for businesses and financial institutions to use regulated digital currencies in cross-border transactions, across a wide spectrum of use cases.

After over one year of prototype development, the UDPN sandbox environment was launched in July 2022 for participants to explore use cases around stablecoins, tokenisation, compliance, payment gateways, CBDC circulation and universal wallet integrations within a commercial and regulated environment. Today, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank completed PoC Use Case #1: Digital Currency Transfer and Swap on the UDPN. The series of 12 UDPN PoCs involve basic functions, such as those demonstrated in PoC Use Case #1, and more complex scenarios, such as multi-lateral CBDC transfers between different types of CBDC currency systems, showcased in POC#10: Central Bank Currency Issuing and Circulation.

Thorsten Neumann, CTO of SC Ventures.

“We are pleased to partake in the first industry pilot on the UDPN platform. This initiative brings the industry together to identify opportunities to unlock economic value in newly emerging digital currencies. Tokenized forms of currency will inevitably become a part of the new financial landscape. Financial service providers and fintechs are well-positioned to experiment with stablecoins and CBDC use-cases that benefit from the finality of on-chain transactions.” 

Rafael Otero, CTO & CPO of Deutsche’s Corporate Bank division.

“For Deutsche Bank, the industry pilot on the UDPN platform is an opportunity to investigate and research how we can enable our clients to actively participate in the decentralised future global economy and benefit from applications that are built on top of the network. This is the next logical step in the development of financial transactions.” 

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Banking Sector

UBA Director Aisha Hassan-Baba Invests NGN30.63 Million in Bank Shares

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Aisha Hassan-Baba, an Independent Non-Executive Director of the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), has invested NGN30.63 million in the purchase of shares.

According to a disclosure by UBA, Hassan-Baba purchased 1,401,769 ordinary shares at NGN21.85 per share on June 27, 2024.

This acquisition was conducted on the Lagos Nigerian Exchange (NGX), solidifying her stake in the financial institution.

Aisha Hassan-Baba, who holds the prestigious title of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON), has been a part of UBA’s board, contributing her extensive experience and expertise in guiding the bank’s strategic direction.

Her decision to increase her shareholding is viewed as a testament to her belief in UBA’s growth and profitability.

UBA, with its wide reach across Africa and beyond, has been a cornerstone of financial services in the region.

The Group Company Secretary and Legal Counsel, Bili A. Odum, confirmed the transaction in a press release published on the Nigerian Exchange Group website.

This move by Hassan-Baba comes at a time when UBA continues to expand its operations and innovate its services to meet the evolving needs of its customers.

The bank’s strategic initiatives, coupled with its solid financial performance, have positioned it as a leading financial institution in Africa.

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Banking Sector

Angola to Sell Minority Stake in Standard Bank Angola Amid Anti-Corruption Drive

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The Angolan government has announced plans to sell a minority stake in Standard Bank de Angola SA, previously controlled by a former insurance magnate currently serving a prison sentence.

This step aligns with President Joao Lourenco’s ongoing efforts to dismantle the legacy of corruption from his predecessor’s administration.

The Angolan government seized a 49% stake in Standard Bank Angola from Carlos Sao Vicente in 2020.

Sao Vicente, once a prominent figure in the nation’s business landscape, was convicted of embezzlement and tax fraud, leading to his nine-year prison sentence.

According to a recent presidential decree, President Lourenco has approved the sale of up to 34% of Standard Bank Angola through an initial public offering (IPO).

The state will retain a 15% stake in the Luanda-based lender. Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, currently owns the remaining 51% of Standard Bank Angola and has the option to acquire an additional 24% stake during the IPO.

The decree, however, did not specify the timeline for the IPO. This sale aims to bolster investor confidence in Angola’s financial sector while further distancing the state from assets linked to corrupt practices.

Standard Bank Angola, which began operations in the southern African country in 2010, has been a significant player in the region’s banking sector.

The move to partially privatize the bank comes as part of broader economic reforms aimed at increasing transparency and efficiency in Angola’s financial system.

Carlos Sao Vicente, the former owner of the seized stake, was a key figure during the latter years of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ regime, which concluded in 2017.

Vicente amassed significant wealth by heading a conglomerate that sold insurance contracts to the state oil company, Sonangol.

His vast fortune enabled him to acquire substantial shares in Standard Bank Angola, among other investments. Following his conviction, he was ordered to pay Angola $500 million.

The decision to liquidate Vicente’s assets is part of President Lourenco’s broader initiative to recover assets misappropriated during the dos Santos era.

This anti-corruption drive has led to several high-profile prosecutions and asset seizures, sending a strong message that the current administration will not tolerate financial impropriety.

The planned IPO is expected to attract significant interest from both local and international investors, given Standard Bank Angola’s robust market position and growth potential.

By reducing state ownership and increasing private sector participation, the Angolan government aims to foster a more competitive and transparent banking environment.

This development underscores Angola’s commitment to reforming its financial sector and curbing corruption, essential steps for attracting foreign investment and promoting sustainable economic growth.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Empowers 400 Fresh Graduates, Invests Over N100 Million in Corpreneurhip Challenge

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No fewer than 400 fresh graduates have benefited from Unity Bank’s entrepreneurship development initiative, also known as Corpreneurship Challenge over the past five years.

This reflects the Bank’s commitment to driving economic growth by supporting the next generation of Nigerian entrepreneurs.

Launched in 20219 with pilots in 4 states – Lagos, Edo, Ogun, and Abuja and scaled to 10 States in 2020, the Corpreneurship Challenge initiative is promoted in partnership with the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, SAED. The initiative features a business pitch presentation where participants, who are mostly fresh graduates participating in the one-year compulsory NYSC service, get the opportunity to present their business plans and stand a chance to win business grants.

The Bank recently increased the prize money to 16 million Naira per stream, allowing participants who emerge winners in the business pitch to win N800,000, N500,000, and N300,000 Business grants for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd positions respectively as against the previous editions in which the sum of N500,000; N300,000 and N200,000 were handed out to respective winners in the Corpreneurship Challenge.

Reflecting on the impact of the initiative, The Divisional Head, Digital Banking and Fintech Partnerships, at Unity Bank, Mr Olufunwa Akinmade, who led the pioneer team that designed the initiative and launched the pilot, said: “The Corpreneurship Challenge has proved to be a viable enterprise development and empowerment initiative due its high-level of success in supporting budding entrepreneurs in the target demographic, as well as the size of the problem it is designed to solve for the Nigerian economy”.

Olufunwa expressed satisfaction with Corpreneurship Challenge’s rising profile as one of the leading sector-agnostic business incubators in Nigeria and said the Bank is committed to sustaining the programme to attain even greater impact required to boost job creation, with young entrepreneurs leading the charge.

Also speaking, the Divisional Head of Retail and SME Banking, Mrs. Adenike Ambimbola said, “We have seen the positive impact of the Corpreneurship Challenge over the past five years because of its innovative approach to youth empowerment and job creation, including a holistic strategy of supporting budding entrepreneurs with mentorship, and skills development, besides the financial backing.”

Since its launch, the Corpreneurship Challenge train has crisscrossed the length and breadth of Nigeria, making a stop in 10 States per stream to turn the dreams of fresh graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs into reality, thus supporting the growth of the SME sector in Nigeria.

The latest edition was held across 10 States, including Taraba, Kogi, FCT, Lagos, Yobe, Ogun, Ebonyi, Enugu, Adamawa, and Imo State, with three winners emerging in each State to make up 30 winners for the edition.

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