Saudi Arabia’s central bank agrees Ripple blockchain deal

Blockchain-based company Ripple plans to help banks in the Kingdom improve their payments infrastructure. (Reuters)
Updated 15 February 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s central bank agrees Ripple blockchain deal

LONDON: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has signed an agreement with blockchain-based company Ripple to help banks in the Kingdom improve their payments infrastructure.
The pilot program is the first of its kind to be launched by a central bank. Participating banks from Saudi Arabia will use Ripple’s ‘xCurrent’ software solution to instantly settle payments sent into and out of the country.
SAMA’s use of xCurrent has the potential to radically shift how banks in Saudi Arabian send money globally.
According to a statement from Ripple, its Saudi Arabian customers will experience “faster, cheaper and more transparent cross-border transactions.”
SAMA’s recent adoption of xCurrent, makes it the second central bank to use blockchain technology to revolutionize payments, following the Bank of England’s successful proof of concept with Ripple in 2017.
Dilip Rao, the global head of infrastructure innovation at Ripple, believes the agreement with SAMA is part of a wave of recognition by financial institutions of the impact blockchain solutions can have on payments.
“Central banks around the world are leaning into blockchain technology in recognition of how it can transform cross-border payments, resulting in lower barriers to trade and commerce for both corporates and consumers,” said Rao. “SAMA is leading the charge as the first central bank to provide resources to domestic banks that want to enable instant payments using Ripple’s innovative blockchain solution.”


Iraq’s southern oil exports approach record high

Updated 12 min 7 sec ago
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Iraq’s southern oil exports approach record high

LONDON: Oil exports from southern Iraq are heading for a record high this month, two industry sources said, adding to signs that OPEC’s second-largest producer is following through on a deal to raise supply and local unrest is not affecting shipments.
Southern Iraqi exports in the first 19 days of September averaged 3.6 million barrels per day, according to ship-tracking data compiled by an industry source, up 20,000 bpd from August’s 3.58 million bpd — the existing monthly record.
The increase follows June’s pact among OPEC and allied producers to boost supply after they had curbed output since 2017 to remove a glut. Iraq in August provided OPEC’s second-largest increase as shipments drop from Iran, which is facing renewed US sanctions.
A second industry source who tracks shipments also said exports this month had averaged 3.6 million bpd, reflecting smooth operations at export terminals and no sign that unrest in Basra, Iraq’s second city, was disrupting flows.
“There were fears that the protests would get to the terminal,” this source said. “But so far, there is no impact.”
Protests in Basra against Iraq’s political elite erupted in July. In early September, Basra airport was attacked with rockets a6nd protesters briefly took oilfield workers hostage.
Before the June OPEC deal, Iraq had been boosting exports from southern terminals to offset a halt in shipments from the northern Kirkuk region last October after Iraqi forces seized control of oilfields there from Kurdish fighters.
Northern exports have held steady in September, averaging around 400,000 bpd so far, according to shipping data and one of the industry sources. This is up from about 300,000 bpd in July but short of levels above 500,000 bpd in some months of 2017.
On June 22-23, OPEC, Russia and other non-members agreed to return to 100 percent compliance with output cuts that began in January 2017. That amounted to an increase of about 1 million bpd, according to OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia.
A group of OPEC and non-OPEC ministers and officials monitoring the agreement are meeting on Sunday in Algeria and will discuss proposals on how to divide the increase, sources have told Reuters.
Iraq has said it is ready to boost output and in August pumped an extra 90,000 bpd, OPEC’s second-largest increase after Libya, according to analyst and oil-industry media estimates compiled by OPEC. Iraq itself said production in August was steady.