The National Bank of Kuwait has launched a product they’re calling “NBK Direct Remit,” a blockchain-based product which uses RippleNet for cross-border payments from within the Middle Eastern nation.
The initial launch of the product only supports payments to nearby Jordan, but they intend to launch in at least 15 more countries soon. According to the bank’s website, this product will help preserve NBK’s dominance as the country’s primary way of moving money:
Focused on digital transformation, NBK has previously launched successful and innovative products that serve different segments, including the NBK Tap & Pay, QuickPay, NBK SelfiePay, cardless cash withdrawal, Biometric Cards, in addition to the continuous enhancements to the NBK Mobile Banking App and other services that make our customer’s banking experience an enjoyable one.
Mainstream integration of blockchain technology may be coming at a crucial time for Kuwait, who last year had their worst per-capita incomes in years, far down from their highs of the mid-90s through the early 2000s. According to TradingEconomics, a site that tracks such data, 2017 marked the lowest income for Kuwaitis in many years:
MENA In A Post-Oil World: Blockchain To The Rescue?
However, enabling cross-border payments and integrating modern technologies is likely a good tactic to stimulate income-generating activities.
Ripple’s Senior Vice President of Customer Success, Marcus Treacher, said of the integration:
The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is an important partner in the region, and we’re excited that they have begun moving live payments across our blockchain network on behalf of their customers. We will continue to work with NBK to connect them to more RippleNet partners so their customers can make quicker, cheaper payments to anywhere in the world.
Kuwait is not the only MENA country integrating blockchain in important ways. Dubai has been leading the way, recently hosting a conference for various blockchain-oriented projects and expressing its desire to be a leading destination for ICOs to do business. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are also reportedly working on a cross-border payment solution.
A post-oil world is around the corner, and countries which have previously relied on oil as their primary source of income are looking far and wide for industries which will keep their heads above water when the world’s demand for oil finally declines along with its supply. Economists have argued for years about when such events will take place, but one true thing is that moving from finite resources to self-sustaining industries like blockchain technology is likely a safe bet.