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Dubai's Emirates NBD joins India's ICICI Bank on blockchain project

The logo for Emirates NBD bank is seen on a deflating hot air balloon over the Emirates Golf Course in Dubai in this December 11, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Steve Crisp/Files

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai's largest bank, Emirates NBD ENBD.DU, is working with India's ICICI on a pilot project to use blockchain technology for global remittances and trade finance, in what they say is a first for banks from the Middle East and India.

The project showed banks can significantly cut transaction cots and time, while demonstrating a near real-time transfer of invoices and purchase orders for trade finance purchases, Emirates NBD said.

Blockchain, which originates from digital currency bitcoin, works as an electronic transaction-processing and record-keeping system that allows all parties to track information through a secure network, with no need for third-party verification.

Several banks have announced plans to use the technology, with Microsoft MSFT.O joining forces with Bank of America Merrill Lynch BAC.N to build and test the technology and create a blockchain-based framework that could eventually be sold to other businesses, the pair said last month.

Emirates NBD and ICICI, India’s largest private sector bank by consolidated assets, say they are partnering with Infosys Finacle to trialing blockchain technology across multiple banking and payment services.

Reporting by Tom Arnold; Editing by Ruth Pitchford