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SETL, Deloitte and Metro Bank completed a series of firsts this week in London.  SETL provided a contactless smartcard enabled blockchain allowing digitised payments, Deloitte exercised its blockchain ID system known as Smart Identity and Metro Bank hosted a connected client account.  In an initial test, over 100 users were issued with contactless smartcards and used them to make purchases from merchants equipped with contactless terminals.  Consumers and merchant balances were updated live-time with all balances held at Metro Bank.

The successful implementation of a blockchain smartcard retail payment system offers the possibility of significantly reducing current high costs for processing retail transactions.  In addition it opens the door to competition in merchant servicing to challenger banks, which are all but excluded from this activity  by the incumbent clearing banks. The service which is provided by SETL Payments Ltd, subject to appropriate regulatory approval, could launch as early as 2017.

In on-boarding participants, Deloitte demonstrated its Smart Identity blockchain  solution communicating with SETL’s payment blockchain. Customers taking part created their identity records on the Deloitte blockchain and had their key details certified by Deloitte.   These certified details were then asserted to the SETL Blockchain to set up user credentials.  This is believed to be the first commercial inter-blockchain application demonstrating how portable, cryptographically secured identity might be applied in a real-world consumer environment.

SETL’s capacity to process billions of transactions a day with burst speeds in the tens of thousands per second means that it could easily keep up with the volumes processed by the large card networks who process around 2000 to 3000  transactions per second on average with burst rates  of around 14,000 transactions per second.  Instant settlement for the retailer and the possibility of charges being only a fraction of the credit and debit card schemes could prove to be powerful incentives for its adoption.

Furthermore, the use of point to point encryption significantly reduces the possibility of kind of wholesale data leakage that has impacted the legacy consumer payment infrastructure over the last decades.

David Myers, Partner at Deloitte added: “To use the Deloitte Identity solution in this way is particularly relevant as it underlines the importance, in the new distributed ledger world of identity management. We are pleased that SETL together with Metro Bank have been able to demonstrate both speed, capacity and identity in the challenging retail payments arena.”

Craig Donaldson, CEO at Metro Bank commented: “We’re always looking for new ways to improve our customers’ banking experience, and payments is an often overlooked but critical part of a customer’s journey. Retail payments have for too long been dominated by a few players to the detriment of customers. Given all the potential that blockchain has to offer, we hope that the success of today’s test will play a key role in moving us a step closer to providing a more efficient and flexible service for customers.”

Peter Randall, CEO of SETL noted: “We are extremely pleased to be working with Deloitte and Metro Bank on this ground-breaking project. The team are leaders in the field of transaction implementation and retail banking service and our common focus on high speed, capacity and resiliency makes us natural partners. This is not a proof-of-concept or a prototype; it will be a revenue generating implementation of distributed ledger technology.”

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