IBM just launched World Wire, a blockchain network for global payments – and it’s already in 72 countries

Jesse Lund (right), global VP of IBM Blockchain and Digital Currencies, and Jed McCaleb, co-founder & CTO of Stellar, at Money20/20.

Tech giant IBM has launched a blockchain network for regulated financial institutions called World Wire.

Announced at Money20/20 Asia in Singapore on Tuesday (March 19), IBM said that the real-time global payments network is designed to optimise and accelerate foreign exchange, cross border payments and remittances.

“World Wire is the first blockchain network of its kind to integrate payment messaging, clearing and settlement on a single unified network, while allowing participants to dynamically choose from a variety of digital assets for settlement,” the company said via a statement released on the same day.

World Wire already has enabled payment locations in 72 countries, with 48 currencies and 46 banking endpoints, IBM said, adding that local regulations will continue to guide activation.

Using the Stellar protocol that makes money transfers point-to-point in lieu of the complexities of conventional correspondent banking, World Wire reduces intermediaries and allows users to accelerate settlement time by transmitting monetary value in the form of cryptocurrency.

“This simplified approach improves operational efficiency and liquidity management, streamlining payment reconciliation and reducing overall transaction costs for financial institutions,” IBM said.

The network currently supports settlement using Stellar Lumens and a US dollar stable coin through IBM’s previously-announced collaboration with Stronghold.

There are also six international banks who have signed letters of intent to issue their own stable coins on World Wire. Pending regulatory approval, these banks will add Euro, Indonesian Rupiah, Philippine Peso, Korean Won and Brazilian Real stable coins to the network.

IBM also said it will continue to expand the ecosystem of settlement assets based on client demand.

“We’ve created a new type of payment network designed to accelerate remittances and transform cross-border payments to facilitate the movement of money in countries that need it most,” Marie Wieck, IBM Blockchain’s general manager said.

“By creating a network where financial institutions support multiple digital assets, we expect to spur innovation and improve financial inclusion worldwide,” she added.