A new low-cost payment transfer network using distributed ledger technology has launched in Nigeria, helping hundreds of thousands of rural women send money via microfinance institutions.
The network is based on technology from non-profit Stellar which has been integrated into the core banking system of Oradian, a fintech firm which specialises in serving MFIs.
Oradian says that moving funds between the various MFIs it serves in rural Nigeria is costly, time-consuming and risky - with cash physically bussed from one site to another.
The Stellar network acts a Swift-like system, connecting 200 MFI branches, serving over 300,000 people - 90% of them women - helping them move money more quickly and cheaply, although users still have to visit their MFI branches to send and collect the funds.
Established by Mt. Gox and Ripple founder Jed McCaleb a couple of years ago, Stellar is a decentralised protocol for sending and receiving money in any pair of currencies - be they dollar, yen or bitcoin.
Backed financially by Stripe, the outfit comes with its own built-in digital currency, although the focus has moved towards making moving existing currencies simpler and cheaper.