By Josiah Wilmoth
Fintech startup Ripple unveiled two major partnerships this week, inking separate deals with money transfer giant Western Union and Saudi Arabia’s central bank.
Saudi Arabia’s Central Bank Begins First-of-Its-Kind Ripple Trial
The San Francisco-based Ripple announced its partnership with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) on Wednesday, explaining that the central banking organization will use xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise blockchain product, for its blockchain trial.
The trial, which Ripple says is the first of its kind, will allow regional banks to connect to the more than 100 financial institutions around the world that already use RippleNet to settle end-to-end transactions.
“Central banks around the world are leaning into blockchain technology in recognition of how it can transform cross-border payments, resulting in lower barriers to trade and commerce for both corporates and consumers,” said Dilip Rao, Ripple’s global head of infrastructure innovation.
The SAMA partnership was impressive in its own right, but it was not the only major Ripple partnership unveiled this week.
Western Union to Begin XRP-Based Pilot
Also on Tuesday, Western Union confirmed rumors that it has begun another Ripple-based blockchain trial, re-establishing a partnership that first began in 2015.
“We are looking especially in the processing settlement and working capital optimization, also in the regulation part, on the compliance part on the blockchain capabilities,” Bloomberg reports Western Union Chief Executive Officer Hikmet Ersek as saying on a conference call. “And we do test, we do have some tests with Ripple.”
Notably, Ripple signaled in a statement that Western Union will adopt a pilot implementation of xRapid, a blockchain product that integrates XRP, the native token of Ripple’s public blockchain. This would make Western Union the highest-profile firm to trial XRP, as most of Ripple’s partners have elected to restrict their trials to RippleNet.
Last month, MoneyGram — the world’s second-largest money transfer service — began a xRapid trial, making it one of few major firms to dip its feet into trials that directly integrate cryptocurrency tokens.
However, now that Ripple has two of the world’s most prominent financial services companies on board — if only for pilot programs — it seems far more likely that other firms will feel comfortable testing XRP or another cryptocurrency in their payment flows.
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Featured Image from Mark Lennihan/AP