Arf: A major leap in cross-border finance
International payments and money transfers are still painful as they utilize too many intermediaries, resulting in slow, expensive, and opaque processes. Modern technology players in the remittance space (Wise or Payoneer) challenged banks and other legacy providers (i.e. Western Union), but even these novel players struggle with instant settlement and trust issues. They currently solve these issues by pre-funding significant amounts of cash in certain corridors and creating additional working capital requirements that are eventually reflected onto customers.
The emergence of new players like neobanks, FX providers, and global businesses coupled with existing tailwinds such as the proliferation of cross-border e-commerce marketplaces and the growth of the freelancer economy, have collectively helped blow up the already strong demand for cross-border payments and money transfers.
Cross border is the nascent real-life use case for crypto payments
Cryptocurrencies eliminate the status quo challenges like speed, volatility, and certainty, while also providing immediate settlement and trust. RippleNet, used by c. 300 financial institutions worldwide, has validated blockchain’s competitive edge in instant cross-border payments through its On-Demand Liquidity service; but still struggles from regulatory compliance issues.
Stellar’s c.$15B market cap for its decentralized platform which enables the movement of secure, digital representations of world currencies, helping businesses facilitate cross-border transactions further validates the market need and the efficiency in using cryptocurrencies for international payments. Stellar aims to stay as the end-to-end protocol and empower its partners to serve end-customers. The evolution of blockchain-based payment protocols (The Lightning Network, Bitpay, Stable coins, JP Morgan’s stable coin, Facebook’s Libra) and the exploratory moves by existing players (like MoneyGram, Wise, and Western Union) hint at what is to come next.
A compliant and instant cross-border payment network
Arf provides a global network for financial institutions that orchestrate instant and fully compliant cross-border settlements, payments & payouts by leveraging stable coins. Arf’s infrastructure connects to BaaS, KYC/AML providers, stable coin issuers, and tech providers to offer instant cross-border payment capabilities to businesses, e-wallets, neobanks, and remittance companies.
Arf seamlessly integrates with stablecoins for infrastructure and compliance framework to onboard neobanks & other licensed FIs to its custody & payments infrastructure and make instant settlements among these institutions in stablecoins. Arf’s other partners in BaaS and payment networks, KYC/AML, custodian services, and payment protocols, enable complex workflows for accounts, transaction monitoring, payout capabilities, and others.
Arf provides 4 core benefits to financial institutions:
- Instant cross-border settlements in existing and new corridors without the need for prefunding or correspondent banking relationships
- Borderless and lean treasury management of attested and 1:1 pegged stablecoins
- Local mid-market FX rates of the receiving country
- New volume of transactions by becoming Arf Network member for local collections and payouts
Immediately getting connected to numerous locally licensed financial institutions via single API integration and a single contract, Arf’s FI partners are able to make collections and send multiple payouts instantly to beneficiaries all around the globe. Arf manages the information layer of the settlement, along with the monetary layer.
Arf’s modular API integrations create multilayer network effects, not only on its tech layer but also as a transactional transfer network.
Arf orchestrates cross-border money transfers from the most convenient route available through its network and enables fixed and competitive FX rates, effectively solving the uncertain nature of the traditional system (fees taken at each hop, uncertainty around the number of hops, central arbitrary FX rates).
Sophisticated team attacking a complex problem
Co-founders Berhan and Ali, seasoned entrepreneurs each with 10+ years of startup experience, teamed up with Kazim and Ahmet, who collectively have 15 years of experience in blockchain technology. The team also onboarded star advisors including Eamon Jubbawy (cofounder of Onfido), Matt McGuire (internationally recognized expert in AML and CTF), and Aly Madhavji (Managing Partner of Blockchain Founders Fund).
Arf’s solution is a major leap forward for instant cross-border payments and transfers as it creates seamless exchange of fund custody across multiple financial institutions, fast and smooth local fiat on/off-ramps, liquidity at the last mile, FX spreads, and solves counterparty risk during settlement. Arf allows funds to be moved cross-border via numerous public blockchains instantly such as Ethereum, Algorand, Solana, or Stellar.
Arf’s hybrid approach leverages blockchain technologies in a fully compliant way and also utilizes traditional payment technologies when necessary. This approach is one of the first fully compliant implementations where licensed financial players can fully embrace and benefit from blockchain technology.