USDC Ecosystem Spotlight

Arf Compliant and Instant Cross-Border Payment Network for Financial Institutions

Arf Compliant and Instant Cross-Border Payment Network for Financial Institutions

Team Circle Team Circle April 27, 2021

ecosystem-guest-author-arf

Berhan Kongel, Arf Co-founder and Product Executive, is an 11-year entrepreneur. He co-founded & exited Harlex UK, a social app company with 4M+ users in 60+ countries, and served as the former COO of the 2nd biggest HR marketplace of Turkey and former product manager at Mercedes-Benz.

Ali Erhat Nalbant, Arf Co-founder and Sales & Business Development Executive, loves to develop tech products with impact. Ex-software developer, ex-Deloitte with 10 years of B2B SaaS product development, B2B marketing & sales experience with over 25 international clients in EMEA. 10 years of entrepreneurship experience. Arf is his 3rd fintech company.

 

The continuous search for a solution to the "instant cross-border payments" problem has finally begun producing fruitful results. Audited, attested and 1:1 pegged stablecoins like USDC offer instant settlements in a fully compliant way for financial institutions in different countries without complex correspondent networks, paving the way for instant cross-border payouts to beneficiaries in their local currencies.

Recent news coming from the financial organizations, such as VISA by adding USDC to their settlement currency options, and PayPal adding a variety of crypto currencies to their checkout flow, suggest that stablecoins are starting to take the front seat in the global money flow and settlements. With the current shifts in technology and compliance, ewallets, neobanks and remittance companies can greatly benefit by pushing the correspondent banking and traditional money transfer messaging systems aside.

In this new era we have entered, Arf provides a global network for financial institutions that orchestrates instant and fully compliant cross-border settlements, payments & payouts by leveraging regulated stablecoins such as USDC.

A graduate of the VISA Innovation Program, Arf provides 4 benefits to financial institutions: 

  • Instant cross-border settlements in existing and new corridors without the need for prefunding 
  • Borderless and lean treasury management of attested and 1:1 pegged stablecoins 
  • Local mid-market FX rates of the receiving country 
  • New revenue stream by becoming a local payout partner for the other Arf Network members 

The best way to understand how Arf does what it does is to examine how one of our clients, a major ewallet provider in the United States (will be mentioned as Client A) is leveraging the Arf Network to provide an “ewallet-to-ewallet” money transfer solution for their users with a few lines of code.

Client A | Case Study

Client A, one of the top ewallet apps in the United States with several million users, had been researching alternatives to expand their money transfer solution to other ewallets in multiple geographies. Our first use case is Instant & 24/7 Money Transfer to eWallets in the Philippines to help Client A’s Filipino user base that regularly send part of their earnings back to their families, with several other geographies to follow.

Arf was the logical choice for Client A, as Arf Network was already connected to top ewallets across multiple geographies for instant 24/7 settlements. 

By becoming a member of Arf Network, Client A was immediately connected to the numerous locally licensed financial institutions from all around world via a single API integration and single contract. Using their Circle Account, Client A is now able to send multiple payouts instantly to beneficiaries in Latin America, Europe, Middle East, South East Asia and Australia, and of course, Philippines.

Instant Settlements, No PreFundıng

Since settlements between Client A and the receiving licensed financial institutions (responsible for disbursing the funds in their respective geographies) occur simultaneously with the payout orders, the FX volatility and counterparty risks for all parties involved in the transaction are minimized. This results in significant decrease of treasury management need or the risk of insufficient funds from sending party during the settlement. The most important benefit is that instant settlements enable any financial institution in Arf Network to launch new corridors immediately in various regions without extra working capital, a.k.a. prefunding.  

 “The Last Mile”, namely the conversion of USDC to the local currency and the payout to the beneficiary occurs locally to bank accounts, ewallets, and even to cash pickup points. From collection to settlement and to payout, this entire flow of funds is seamlessly orchestrated by Arf, including all complex compliance requirements.

 

Lean & agile treasury management

Besides the dramatically increased speed and the decreased cost of each transaction, Arf’s clients also benefit from decreased overall cost of operations. Because Client A only needs to keep their treasury in the form of USDC (also in other attested stablecoins in the future), traditional concepts such as exposure to currency volatility in different geographies and multi-currency / multi-account prefunding become obsolete. As a result, treasury management is possible in a lean way to support multi-geography payments.

 

Local FX rates 

Arf enables the local financial institutions in receiving countries in Arf Network to provide FX rates. These rates are significantly lower than the ones provided by centralized FX players in sending countries, even when the sending financial institution has little or no volume at the start. The low rates are also made possible by Arf’s negotiating power gained by batching the volumes of multiple sending financial institutions.

 

New Revenue Stream

Arf unlocks a new revenue stream opportunity for all its clients. By becoming a local payout partner in the United States, Client A immediately started to capture the new volume created by the other members in Arf Network that is directed to the United States.

The Future

Although the concept of transferring funds between financial institutions using crypto currencies is not new, it never worked out the way it was contemplated. While networks like Ripple suffer from serious regulatory problems and lack of liquidity across multiple geographies, attempts at building networks of traditional banks such as IBM’s Worldwire failed due to the incompatible technological and compliance infrastructures as well as misaligned visions.  

Arf is a major leap forward in cross-border payments and remittances. It is the first implementation that solves all the hard problems that had ailed this concept so far; seamless, cross-border and compliant exchange of fund custody across multiple financial institutions, fast and smooth local fiat on/off-ramps, liquidity at the last mile, FX spreads, compliance to the “Travel Rule” and counterparty risk during settlement. We believe that the winning path forward in terms of this concept being mainstream is a balanced strategy of traditional payment technology, new blockchain technology and a solid compliance program which we put together via Arf API and Arf Network.

In our opinion, what makes Arf possible today is also the future of banking and payments, namely, financial institutions like Circle, that carry a crypto custody and exchange license in their own local jurisdictions in addition to their traditional financial licences. These institutions can control funds in the form of both fiat and cryptocurrencies and offer instant and seamless exchange between the two. This is also the key differentiating factor of Arf’s Network as it allows the funds to be moved cross-border via numerous public blockchains such as Ethereum, Algorand, Solana or Stellar 24/7 in a few seconds. Rapidly redeemable, transparently audited, 1:1 fiat pegged stablecoins like USDC, that carry high liquidity across multiple geographies complement Arf Network by being the base settlement and cross-border transfer currency.

Every day, we are adding new and innovative financial institutions such as ewallets, neobanks, digital remittance companies to our Network to connect more geographies and payment methods to our real-time payment infrastructure. We are also expanding our infrastructure to support more stablecoins to make first mile collections and last mile payouts even faster and at better FX rates.

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