Ripple’s Twelve Apostles
Are Ripple’s software platforms and Ripple’s cryptocurrency (XRP) the standard for settling cross-border money payments? Not at all. The current standard is called SWIFT (a terrible name if you consider that it’s not fast at all), as it’s remained so for more than 43 years. But it could indeed become the new standard. That’s what Ripple has been going for since 2012. Ripple’s service is fast, it’s cheap, it’s reliable. it’s basically real-time when you compare it to SWIFT.
And yes, it’s not the world’s standard yet but is getting more attention and partners everywhere in the world. Many of those partners are among the world’s most influential banks and remittance services. Some of them are just testing Ripple’s technology, but some of them are already using it at the production stage as a commercial product that makes a real difference for customers.
We are posting this article today because it’s not 100% clear yet who is testing (let alone using) either XRP as a cryptocurrency or Ripple’s software as a platform. Ripple still owns most of the XRP (which was mined in full before it went online) and holds it in a series of escrow smart contracts that keep a steady number of XRP tokens coming into the market each month. Ripple has not been all that clear either about who is actually using xRapid, which is the one piece of software that uses XRP as a mediating coin to settle payments. Ripple offers two other blockchain solutions for partners (xCurrent and xVia) which can use XRP but can also use other fiat and cryptocurrencies.
Only last month, Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse gave an interview to Fortune. he said
“Not many months ago, the media was saying no one will use XRP, which made for good skeptical headlines. Today, you can’t say that as people are starting to use XRapid because it’s better, faster and cheaper.”
Mr. Garlinghouse is quite vocal about his optimism for Ripple’s tech and token adoption and he’s quite sure that banks all around the planet will be using xRapid before the current year ends. He even had the boldness to offer the current SWIFT CEO a job at Ripple.
As things stand currently, many banks are using Ripple’s platform in a test stage. But only a handful of Ripple’s strategic partners are using it for real everyday business. The real users are a mainly smaller business that needs to settle cross-border payments, some money remittances services, and one world-class bank. But Ripple has become really famous and a force to reckon with in the cryptosphere, so it’s become rather hard to keep track of who is using XRP, and not just Ripple’s platform, which allows for other options.
So in this article, we tell you who among Ripple’s partners are giving XRP a test (or using it seriously) along with xRapid. There are twelve of them, hence the title.
Cuallix is based in the US and Mexico. It provides credit and payment processing solutions among those two countries which have one of the highest exchanges of cash in the world. You can get your car insured from Cuallix, or a credit loan, for instance. More importantly, you can move money from the US to Mexico (and vice-versa) quickly. Cuallix still uses SWIFT alongside Ripple, as most banks and remittance services in the world do.
xRapid went online last October and Cuallix quickly became one of its first users, since it was one of Ripple’s older partners. It joined the RippleNet one year before and was among xRapid’s testers long before it was a commercial product in 2018. When Cuallix CFO, Nicolas Palacios, attended Ripple’s Swell conference, he explained that xRapid was faster and more transparent.
Mercury FX is not exactly a retail service but a remittance service that serves high-net-worth clients. So it’s probably not for you and me. It’s adopted XRP to bounce money around the US and Mexico and it’s currently working on implementing the same service to also bounce money with the Philippines.
The largest payment Mercury FX has sent through the RippleNet was from the UK to Mexico. It was £3,521.67 ($4552). Alastair Constance, who serves as the company’s CEO was recently speaking at Ripple Regionals 2019 and he explained that xRapid improves things greatly over SWIFT because it’s faster, cheaper, more reliable. Mercury FX is among Ripple’s main partners and it will surely remain so.
Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union
Catalyst is something of a bank’s bank. Ok, things are more complicated than that, but let us explain it to you a bit. It’s headquartered in Texas. It serves 1,400 local credit unions and it provides them with several financial services. Catalyst offers several different services to each and every one of those 1,400 credit unions and one of them is called “Currentz” and it will use XRP to settle international payments. Which payments, I hear you ask? Well, payments between the US and Mexico (if you haven’t noticed it yet, yes, processing payments between the US and Mexico is a really good idea).
At the Swell conference, Brad Ganley (Senior Vice President for the company) clarified why the currently available methods for international payments are just too much of a pain in the back.
IDT is not exactly a traditional financial company. It’s a telecommunications company which owns an international money transfer business called BOSS Revolutions. And BOSS already uses cryptocurrencies to exchange fiat currencies.
The company signed up for a strategic partnership with Ripple in January 2018 (more or less at the same time when Mercury FX did) to start a pilot program that will allow it to find out how good xRapid is.
Alfredo O’Hagan said that, after a month of trials, xRapid was much better than the company expected and that it’s going to deploy a commercial product based on Ripple’s tech and XRP (the token). It also produced a leaflet naming xRapid as a partner.
Euro Exim Bank
Euro Exim is based in London and it’s focused on global trade and finance. It’s not a new player. It’s worked with SWIFT for more than two decades so as traditional financial institutions go, it’s hard to beat it. And yet, it showed a lot of vision by being the first bank to deploy xRapid, after testing it in low-valued jurisdictions in which average costs are usually higher. Euro Exim also uses xCurrent for international payments.
“Global payments look set to be a $2-trillion industry by 2020, but is still hampered by high fees, best rate setting, risk of fraud, speed, regulation, multiple banking relationships and cash flow impact,” head of compliance and operations, Graham Bright, explained and then he added, “Distributed ledger technology is envisioned to resolve these issues and again offer cost efficiencies, speed, and immutability concerning each transaction.”
SendFriend is a little more specialized and localized than the institutions we’ve listed so far. Its business is to find ways to send money to the Philippines and it secured a partnership with Ripple only last November. And it liked the service, so it’s going to go live with xRapid during the current financial quarter.
The company’s CEO, David Lighton, published this comment in a Ripple blog:
“Through our partnership, we are bringing our customers a next-generation, blockchain payment solution that leverages XRP to address many of the efficiency and equity problems with existing remittances. For them, that means cheaper and faster payments.”
SBI Holdings is one of the big boys.
It’s a Japanse financial services company, headquartered in Tokyo, which is deep into the crypto verse. It even launched an exchange based on Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP which is not average behavior for average traditional banking firms. It’s working towards integration with xRapid so that virtual currencies can facilitate international payments (from Yen to XRP and vice-versa).
SBI Holdings has also deployed MoneyTap. It’s an app for international payments fueled by xCurrent which is Ripple’s tech (even if it doesn’t use XRP as means of exchange).
Another of SBI Holdings’ partners is R3. This is a blockchain company based in Japan as well. One of its main products is XRP, no less. Its platform is known as “Corda”.
Yoshitaka Kitaok, president of SBI Holdings, is known to have seriously praised R3’s partnership with Ripple. He’s on the record predicting that XRP’s market capitalization (the third largest in the current market) could even go higher than Bitcoin, mother of all digital assets.
MoneyGram provides global money transfers for everybody. You can use it if you have a bank account, and you can use it if you don’t (which is the most important point). About a year ago it partnered up with Ripple to integrate xVia in a pilot program to use for its customers’ needs. Then it upgraded to xRapid, which is still not deployed in a commercial capacity but in tests.
Cambridge FX is not a cross-border payments system for retail customers (ordinary people) but for businesses. It’s based out of Canada and it already boasts 13,000 clients in 140 countries.
It still uses the severely outdated SWIFT messaging system to move more than $20 billion all around the world each year and it’s interested particularly in emerging markets.
Cambridge agreed to try out Ripple’s xRapid last March.
The company’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Frey, is on the record explaining that SWIFT is not keeping up with the current times so blockchain technology could be the long-term solution the industry needs.WesternUnion
Is there a more famous remittance system in the world? It serves private individuals as well as small businesses and corporations. The trade flow it had for 2017 was no less than $300 billion all around the world (and it operates in 200 hundred countries).
The relationship between Western Union and Ripple has not been exactly hunky-dory. Western Union started trying x Rapid last February. After the test, Hikmet Ersek (the company’s CEO) said publicly that cost-savings with Ripple’s tech were not a big deal at all. Then a Ripple executive came forward to let the world know that the whole of Western Union’s trial run was comprised of 10 transfers in total (so that the public could infer that it lacked any kind of statistical significance).
Molly Shea, who is General Manager of Asia Pacific for the same company, informed the public that they’re trying more pilot tests involving Ripple’s technology without clarifying if they were using xVia, xCurrent or xRapid.
WesternUnion also has money in the blockchain industry through the Digital Currency Group, which is an institutional trading firm doing business with digital assets.
Viamericas is present in 29 countries with special emphasis in Mexico and South America, but it’s based in Maryland. Paul Dwyer, the firm’s founder had this to say about Ripple’s platforms “It’s clear that xRapid can lower liquidity costs while increasing payment speed and transparency in a way that facilitates rigorous compliance controls”. He added that his company is looking forward to keep working with Ripple and break new ground along with it.
Ripple has listed Viamericas in a leaflet about xRapid as one of the four customers that are using it commercially already, but there is no definitive confirmation from the Maryland company so far.
This one is different from most of the other Ripple partners. It’s a European firm based in Austria and it’s focused on “Small Medium Enterprises”. Still, it has activities in 140 countries and serves 42,00′ customers. At 7,800 monthly transactions, it’s nothing to sneer at.
The company’s plan is to make Ripple’s tech useful to settle payments to Mexico and the Philippines.
So far Ripple has only twelve apostles. The number of partners using the technology as a commercial resource doesn’t go as high as twenty –yet.
But xRapid has been around for fewer than five months, so taking into account how recent this technology is, 12 committed partners are still a lot.
So, is Ripple the new standard that will do away with SWIFT? No, it isn’t. At least not yet. But its current partners wish it were. Stay tuned.
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