Mastercard has collaborated with Bahrain’s Electronic Network for Financial Transactions (BENEFIT) to bring blockchain-based payments to the Kingdom.

The two parties launched a nationwide pilot programme, which will enable banks to send and receive cross-border B2B payments quickly and securely on a private network.

Banks will be able to directly exchange payment information through the blockchain network. This removes the requirement of intermediaries and speeds-up the payment process.

The programme will work via Mastercard’s cross-border B2B service. It is expected that the blockchain technology will improve efficiency and turnaround time.

Mastercard division president in Middle East and North Africa Khalid Elgibali said: “Blockchain has the potential to transform the way payments are made.

“Mastercard will continue to work with BENEFIT and our other partners in the region to explore further use cases of blockchain, which can help drive greater efficiencies, increase transparency and support the development of digital economies.”

The card giant added that the new programme will provide banks with B2B payment trends in order to inform them of customer buying habits without revealing confidential details.

BENEFIT CEO Abdulwahed Al-Janahi said: “We are very pleased to sign this agreement, which will be a qualitative leap for international remittance systems and will strengthen Bahrain’s name as a leading international hub in Fintech.

“The project fits with the national agenda of implementing innovative products based on new technology such as blockchain.”

Earlier this month, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, IBM, Scentre Group and Westpac partnered to launch a new digital platform called Lygon blockchain designed to obtain and manage bank guarantees.

Also, Union Bank of the Philippines completed a cross-border blockchain remittance pilot from Singapore to the Philippines.