Today Adhara announced it raised a $7.5 million Series A round led by Germany’s Yabeo and the UK’s Force Over Mass Capital (FOM). The enterprise blockchain startup is best known for its central bank digital currency (CBDC) work in South Africa and as the blockchain technology partner to Fnality, the tokenized central bank payments solution previously known as the Utility Settlement Coin. Other investors include Tokentus and ConsenSys, which previously provided Adhara’s $15 million Series A round in 2018.
Talking about the fundraise, Julio Faura, CEO & Co-Founder of Adhara said, “It places us in a strong position to be the trusted software partner for commercial banks in the shift to real time settlement liquidity and the go-to software partner for system integrators or consultancies providing liquidity advisory.”
Faura headed up Santander’s R&D and Blockchain practice before founding Adhara with Ed Budd, Chief Digital Officer at Deutsche Bank and Peter Munnings, who formerly worked on innovation at FirstRand Bank treasury.
Last month Ledger Insights caught up with Munnings, Adhara’s COO, who spoke about the commercial banking solutions which the funding will be used to develop further. The company is working with several other banks, but its clients aren’t ready to make announcements quite yet.
Two of the Adhara solutions are LiquidityHub T.0 and PayHub T.0, which are both targeted for banks to use for intragroup transactions.
As its name implies, LiquidityHub T.0 enables banks to pool cash, reducing the intragroup Nostro account balances and other correspondent accounts. Its utility is best explained with an example.
The startup has a team of 34 with companies in the UK, Spain and South Africa. When Adhara makes a payment from the UK to Spain via Santander, the transaction is routed through bank accounts in the United States. And the currency conversion is done with the dollar as an intermediate currency.
Instead of trying to fix the core banking system, with LiquidityHub T.0 the bank could have two hubs where it tokenizes all its sterling and euro balances, still allowing the subsidiary treasuries to control their balances. Tokens can be simply be transferred between subsidiaries. Expanding that to all currencies signficantly reduces the amount of liquidity required across a bank. PayHub T.0 complements this functionality by enabling better payment routing.
While these two solutions are ultimately money-savers, there’s a third, which provides a new business opportunity for banks. Treasury T.0 enables a similar kind of white-label solution for corporates and especially midsize firms with international reach. It enables the companies to have visibility into their liquidity around the world and make multi-currency payments. Additionally, it allows them to hedge their foreign positions.
The T.0 branding is a three-way nod to the fact these solutions incorporate tokenization, enable T0 or instant settlement, and the technology is still new.
Munnings has been in the sector for six years and expressed a passion for the technology but acknowledged past frustration about adoption. “My sense is we’re now at the point where we’re going to see real volumes and real money coming out of this,” he said.