Global credit card giant Visa has rolled out the first, pilot phase of its blockchain-based business-to-business payments service, B2B Connect. First announced last year, Visa plans to use the platform to ease cross-border payments by facilitating direct payments between institutions, cutting out the middleman the industry currently relies on. The platform – developed with the assistance of blockchain startup Chain – is also designed to ensure secure, yet transparent payments between enterprises. Already working with Visa on the project are U.S.-based Commerce Bank, South Korea's Shinhan Bank, the Union Bank of Philippines and the United Overseas Bank, based in Singapore. Visa's global head of solutions, Kevin Phalen, told CoinDesk that the banks are trialing live bank-to-bank transactions over the platform. Following this first phase of the project, phase two will see the project move to a commercial launch, slated to occur in the middle of 2018, he added. Phalen explained: "This week's announcement is just the first step as we work towards a commercial launch of Visa B2B Connect. We are beginning to process bank-to-bank test transactions with select clients. Additional banks, including corporates, will follow soon." Visa's existing partners, as well as future ones, can utilize the company's application programming interface (API) to create their own platforms, according to a press release.
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