The National Bank of Kuwait has launched a product that they call "NBK Direct Remit", a blockchain-based product that uses RippleNet for cross-border payments within the Middle East nation.
The initial launch of the product only supports payments to neighboring Jordan, but will soon be launched in at least 15 other countries. According to the website of the bank, this product will help to preserve the dominance of NBK as the main means of displacement of the country:
Focused on digital transformation, NBK has previously launched innovative and successful products serving several segments, including NBK Tap & Pay, QuickPay, NBK SelfiePay, cashless withdrawal, biometric cards, as well as continuous improvements to the NBK Mobile app Banking and other services that make our customers' banking experience pleasant.
The mainstream integration of blockchain technology could come at a crucial time for Kuwait, which last year had its worst per capita income for years, much lower than the highs of the mid-1990s. 90 until the early 2000s. According to TradingEconomics, a site that keeps track of 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 probably a good tactic to stimulate income-generating activities.
Marcus Treacher, Ripple's Senior Vice President of Customer Success, said of the integration:
The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is an important partner in the region and we are thrilled to have started transferring real-time payments to our blockchain network on behalf of their clients. We will continue to work with NBK to connect them to multiple RippleNet partners so that their customers can make faster and cheaper payments anywhere in the world.
Kuwait is not the only MENA country to integrate the blockchain in important ways. Dubai paved the way, recently hosting a conference for several blockchain-oriented projects and expressing a desire to be one of the main destinations for ICO activities. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also working on a cross-border payment solution.
A post-oil world is behind the corner, and countries that previously relied on oil as a major source of income look far and wide for industries that will keep their heads out of the water when global demand of oil finally declines together with its offer. Economists have been discussing for years when such events will take place, but one thing is that moving from limited resources to self-sufficient sectors such as blockchain technology is probably a safe bet.
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