Spanish megabank Santander Group is expanding its use of Ripple’s technology.
The bank is building a “payment corridor” that would let customers in Latin America send money to the U.S. instantly for free via One Pay FX, a mobile app that uses Ripple’s xCurrent software, officials told CoinDesk.
Currently, only customers in the U.K. and Spain can send money to the U.S. over One Pay FX. While the bank would not reveal how many Latin American countries it plans to connect to the corridor, Santander serves Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Mexico.
Like Santander’s DLT efforts to date, the new payment capability will not involve XRP, the cryptocurrency that Ripple periodically sells to fund operations and that powers its separate xRapid product. Last year, Santander introduced One Pay FX in four countries that account for more than half the bank’s profits: Spain, the U.K., Brazil and Poland.
This offering is getting traction, the bank says.
“Customers who were not doing international transfers are now using the service, customers who were using international transfer are now doing it more, and customers who had gone to use fintech competition have come back because of the One Pay offering,” Cedric Menager, CEO of One Pay FX, told CoinDesk.
Unlike the SWIFT messaging system that banks traditionally have used to make international transfers, xCurrent is instant, has no fees and gives users a view into currency exchange rates before they send money, Menager said.
While Santander would not reveal its transaction volumes for One Pay FX, it said those volumes tripled from January 2019 to June and volumes for Spain increased by 120 percent year-over-year in April.
Expanding One Pay FX will mean a bigger change for some Latin American customers, who will go from making international transfers in branches to instant online payments, than for European customers, said Menager.
“The international payment experience in the Latin American markets is even less evolved than in the European markets,” he said. “There are even parts of the Latin American market where it’s almost impossible to do an online international payment.”
The corridor will be launched country-by-country, and the bank would not say when the first country would launch.
The bank also plans to bring One Pay FX to U.S. Santander customers for them to send money abroad but does not have a date for that launch yet. The U.S. launch will be a heavier lift for the bank because of the difference in financial regulations.
Santander is also developing Pago FX, which will be an xCurrent international payment product for non-Santander customers, in an attempt to win over these customers from other banks.
“International payments is a way for us to acquire customers having a painful experience with traditional banking,” Manger said.
Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo have joined Ripple’s University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) per CoinDesk Japan. The 2018 program now boasts 33 participants including Princeton University, Carnegie Mellon, and the National University of Singapore, among others.
Ripple committed $50 million toward the project to develop blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital network programs. Funds sent to the Japanese universities will fuel undergraduate, graduate, and PhD studies. The University of Tokyo will also issue scholarships with the funds.
“University partners will continue to increase positive awareness of the transformative impact that blockchain technology will have across various industries,” SVP of Global Operations at Ripple Eric van Miltenburg said. “As the industry matures, the academic community plays a pivotal role in paving the road for innovative companies and entrepreneurs leveraging blockchain technologies and digital assets.”
Price of XRP over the last 30 days via CoinDesk data.
Academia continues to play a role in Ripple’s roadmap. The payment network announced commitments to the Brazilian Universities of São Paulo and Fundação Getulio Vargas in June as part of a greater South America investment strategy. At the time, Ripple reported it was adding two to three financial institutional partners to RippleNet per week in the region.
Competition for the firm is greater than ever, however. A recent testing report from dominant financial network SWIFT showed quickening settlement speeds. Test runs through 17 participants averaged 25 seconds per transfer. The fastest settlement took all of 13 seconds.
Still, quarterly sales for Ripple’s XRP are on the rise. Ripple’s Q2 numbers were up 50% with $251.51 million XRP sold. Following inflation criticisms, Ripple plans on slowing its sales across the board in Q3.
Cryptocurrency giant Ripple has partnered with Kyoto University and the University of Tokyo as part of its University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI). Ripple announced its new Japanese partnerships in a press release on July 30.
Emi Yoshikawa, senior director of global operations at Ripple, noted that there is high interest in blockchain within Japanese academia:
“Japan is quickly becoming a leading force in crypto assets and blockchain. The region has always been forward thinking and exploring ways to improve the current financial system […] We have seen high levels of interest from the academic community on topics around blockchain and crypto. Ripple is committed to engaging and inspiring students to become part of the workforce of the future, across areas such as blockchain, distributed computing, banking and fintech.”
The University of Tokyo will reportedly award scholarships to students doing blockchain research, and its economics department is also arranging public seminars on blockchain and settlement.
The university’s economic professors are also engaged in research on the evolving financial system, as well as frameworks for regulation and supervision for crypto assets and blockchain technology.
At Kyoto University, graduate students are conducting blockchain research in areas such as remittances by migrant workers, digital identity management for refugees and supply chain management.
University Blockchain Research Initiative
According to the announcement, Ripple provides financial resources as well as expertise and technical resources to support research. UBRI is currently partnered with 33 universities, as per the press release.
Ripple states that it believes the demand for tech solutions is growing as globalization increases and hopes that by partnering with universities, the company can help usher in a new generation of engineers, business leaders, entrepreneurs and other professionals who are blockchain literate. Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice-president of global operations at Ripple commented:
“As the industry matures, the academic community plays a pivotal role in paving the road for innovative companies and entrepreneurs leveraging blockchain technologies and digital assets.”
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the Institute for Fintech Research at Beijing’s Tsinghua University partnered with UBRI in January. The university launched the Blockchain Technology Research Scholarship Program, a program designed for researching global blockchain regulations as well as industry development.