Bank Santander plans to launch a Ripple-based international payments app in the spring, according to Business Insider.
Nathan Bostock, UK CEO of Santander, said at the International Fintech Conference in London on Friday: “This spring, if not [sic] one beats us to it, we will be the first large retail bank to carry out cross-border payments at scale with blockchain technology.”
The launch was first announced by Santander at a presentation in January by CEO Ana Botin. She said that the new system will be available to customers in Spain, Brazil, the UK, and Poland.
Santander first invested in Ripple back in 2015 through its venture investment arm Santander Innoventures, shortly after concluding that it was only a matter of time before distributed ledger technology is adopted by banks. Santander has collaborated with Ripple several times since then, including with a partnership signed in November 2017.
California-based Ripple sells a blockchain-based payment network designed for use by institutions. Transferring money abroad with older systems takes days, while Ripple can settle transfers within 24 hours. This is the niche that Ripple fills.
One of its products is called xCurrent. It “enables banks to instantly settle cross-border payments with end-to-end tracking”. Another is xRapid, a system which uses the Ripple cryptocurrency (XRP) to make payments work. Ripple has been called “Western Union using blockchain technology”, and even the real Western Union has experimented with Ripple products.
Ripple was first installed by a bank in 2014, and since then it has expanded aggressively, signing with hundreds of financial institutions worldwide. Santander is not the only big name on its list.
Most recently, Ripple announced that its products are to be tested on a large scale in China. Although China is technically not cryptocurrency-friendly, Ripple is more of a payment system that uses blockchain technology and puts less emphasis on its native cryptocurrency. Sagar Sarbhai, Ripple’s head of government and regulatory relations for Asia Pacific, said: “We’re trying to get some regulatory clarity, we’ve started engaging informally with banks, FIs and payment providers, speaking to regulators and government bodies, trying to educate on what Ripple is and what our vision is.”
According to coinmarketcap.com, the company has a market capitalisation of almost 25 trillion USD.