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World Bank exceeds expectations with world-first blockchain bond - CBA

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By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The world’s first public bond created and managed using only blockchain had support from seven investors, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the sole lead manager of the deal said on Friday, helping raise A$110 million ($80.48 million) for the World Bank.

Commonwealth Bank <CBA.AX> executive general manager James Wall said that the deal, designed to test how the technology might improve decades-old bond sales practices, had exceeded expectations and interest had been “overwhelming”.

The American fund Northern Trust <NTRS.O>, three Australian state governments, local pension fund First State Super, and CBA were the investors in the deal, which is being viewed as an initial step in moving bond sales away from manual processes towards faster and cheaper automation.

World Bank Treasurer Arunma Oteh said there had been “huge” interest.

“I am delighted that this pioneer bond transaction using the distributed ledger technology, bond-i, was extremely well received by investors,” said Oteh, referring to the deal acronym, standing for Blockchain Operated New Debt Instrument as well as a reference to Australia’s most famous beach.

“We are particularly impressed with the breath of interest from official institutions… these high-quality investors understood the value of leveraging technology for innovation in capital markets.”

The World Bank, whose bonds carry an AAA rating, regularly uses its borrowing power to help develop new bond markets as well as pioneering new means for selling and trading the securities.

It issues between $50 billion (39 billion pounds) and $60 billion a year of bonds to back economic progress in developing countries.

Australia is a popular test site for market developments because of its well-established financial infrastructure and the familiarity of international investors with the Australian dollar, which is one of the most-traded currencies in the world.

While there have been other prototypes or parallel simulation blockchain projects in the market before, CBA said the World Bank bond will be the first time that capital is raised from public investors through a legally valid bond issuance that uses blockchain from start to finish.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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