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Australian and Estonian Banks Getting Hands On With Digital Currency

A subsidiary of Estonian LHV Bank has launched a digital wallet that uses the Bitcoin blockchain to facilitate payments and issue securities.

Though still in testing Cuber Wallet is available on both iOS and Android devices, and currently allows users to send euros to anyone for free. Additionally, the app also allows merchants to accept payments for free and avoid credit card transaction fees.

The bank also claimed that they issued €100,000 worth of securities on the Bitcoin blockchain, using the Cuber platform, making them the first bank to ever do so. The news follows announcements from other financial institutions including the Nasdaq OMX Group, who is trialing blockchain technology in the Nasdaq Private Market, and Overstock, who announced the first ever issuance of a cryptosecurity yesterday.

“We hope Cuber can […] liberate innovation from organizational borders, truly decentralize it. And true innovation in financial sector will flourish”
— – Rain Lõhmus, CEO of LHV Group subsidiary, Cuber Technology

Australian banks seek efficiency

While liberation and decentralization might be the motivating factors for LHV, two of Australia’s ‘Big Four’ banks announced they were experimenting with the alternative digital currency, Ripple, for interbank settlements.

The Westpac and ANZ announcements come weeks after another member of that exclusive Aussie bank club, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, announced they too were experimenting with the digital currency. During a talk at an industry event, the financial institution’s chief information officer David Whiteing said, "Internally, Commonwealth Bank has been testing crypto protocols and we are about to begin a wider experiment with one of our offshore subsidiaries to explore the benefits of intrabank transfers using these protocols.”

Ripple, which unlike bitcoin is distributed and not decentralized, has positioned itself as the next-generation settlement system for finance institutions. According to the company behind the digital currency, Ripple Labs, using its payment network can lower costs and provide real-time payment for large businesses.

"The solution we’ve developed is faster than other alternatives in the market today, providing same or next-day payment. This technology could be very beneficial to all Australians, providing a low-cost and fast method of sending low-value payments overseas."
— – Rachel Slade, Westpac Group General Manager of Global Transactional Services

Ripple Labs has already announced partnerships with several American banks, German bank Fidor, institutions payment provider Earthport, and even said it was in preliminary talks with global remittance provider Western Union. According to Chris Larsen, Ripple Labs CEO and Co-Founder, they are in various stages of partnership with around 30 institutions.

An open platform

Cuber Wallet is taking a different approach, as it focuses on the consumer. Its announcement comes a year after LHV Bank said they were exploring possible use cases of digital currency. The bank, founded in 1999, considers itself a “new generation bank” and is the European banking partner for both American bitcoin exchange Coinbase and British exchange Coinfloor. Like German Fidor Bank, LHV is focused on new technological solutions to financial problems and has been investing resources into developing digital products.

In a Cuber Wallet press release Lõhmus said that startups working with banks and other financial institutions are crucial for the advancement of the industry and technologies, allowing innovative open platforms to develop. He went on to say that they plan on the doing the same with Cuber and will release an API so other banks and fintech startups can build on top of it.

The creation of the app was done in partnership between LHV, its subsidiary Cuber Technology, and colored coins development company, ChromaWay AB, who has developers in Estonia, Ukraine, Sweden, Israel and Russia. LHV played the crucial role of making sure the app was legal and complaint with all relevant regulations.

The app is available to use, but currently there are deposit restrictions and funds can only be loaded from a LHV bank account. Further beta testing of the Cuber will begin later this year.


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