Ripple adds top Latin America bank to cash-transfer network

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Ripple, the San Francisco-based venture looking to rewire financial firms with Bitcoin’s underlying technology, said Latin America’s biggest bank by market value is among five new customers joining its international money-transfer network.

Brazil’s Itau Unibanco Holding SA, India’s IndusInd Bank Ltd. and a trio of remittance companies plan to use RippleNet, a service using blockchain, Ripple said Wednesday. The RippleNet messaging and settlement system now has about 100 customers -- including many from developing markets seeking to lower their costs when sending money.

“Emerging markets are where the opportunity is most acute because there are high volumes of low-value transactions,” said Patrick Griffin, Ripple’s senior vice president for business development. “If it costs $50 to transfer $50, that obviously doesn’t work.”

The three remittance companies are Brazil’s Beetech, Singapore’s InstaReM and Canada’s Zip Remit. RippleNet’s entrenched competitor is the Brussels-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, which connects more than 11,000 institutions.

RippleNet doesn’t use XRP, the digital token that Ripple says would create even greater efficiencies in international transfers. The idea is that XRP would serve as a bridge currency and free banks from the expense and hassle of tying up money in different currencies at other banks. But because firms have been reluctant to adopt the token, Ripple is focusing on RippleNet as it continues to develop and market XRP-based products for future use.

Bloomberg News
Cryptocurrencies Ripple Itau Unibanco Brazil