Multinational banking giant Citigroup has been looking at Bitcoin’s distributed ledger technology for “the last few years” and has amassed a skilled team, Ken Moore, Head of Citi Innovation Labs told IBTimes UK during a tech briefing.
Moreover, Citi has constructed three blockchains and a test currency called Citicoin to flow through them; a framework parallel to Bitcoin and the blockchain.
Moore confirms that these blockchains and Citicoin are well confined within the group’s innovation labs and there is no real money involved as of yet.
Since the technology developed by Citi is based on open-source Bitcoin technology, it has refused to file a patent.
Understanding the positive transformations that the Bitcoin technology can bring about, Citi is talking to governments discussing “an international blockchain ledger network” or even “the opportunity to create a state-backed digital currency in a number of different countries.”
Similar to other leading banks such as Barclays, Citi has started funding promising financial technology companies. It is currently strongly focusing on four or five companies, but the number may swell in the future as the behemoth increases its capital injection into blockchain ventures.
Citi’s Kenya Connection
In addition to building blockchains and creating its own lab currency Citicoin, the financial giant is conducting mobile transactions in Kenya in an effort to serve the largely unbanked population.
Managing Director at Payments and Receivables EMEA, Ireti Samuel-Ogbu said Citigroup’s alliance with Kenya’s leading mobile network operator Safaricom enables mobile banking.
Samuel adds: “The problem in Kenya was that multinationals and NGOs needed to make payments in remote locations and the only means of doing that was cash. We were able to partner with Safaricom to enable us with our banking platform to make an electronic funds transfer – which is normal for a banking platform – but to also enable payment into a mobile phone.”