The global remittance giant Western Union might use the digital currency ripple in a pilot program. Western Union has confirmed it is currently in talks with Ripple Labs, the company behind the digital currency, but details remain scarce. However, if the program comes to fruition, it would be a landmark moment for ripple and the larger digital currency industry.
Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Ripple Labs Monica Long did not confirm the details of the project but did add, “In general, financial institutions and networks use Ripple as a technology that powers real-time settlement in any currency to lower the cost of liquidity and compliance. Ripple was created to enable an Internet of Value in which the world can move value as easily as information moves today.”
Ripple Labs has long promoted the digital currency’s payment network as a way to improve global payments, and many suspect that the remittance giant could use the digital currency as a way to send money faster and cheaper, though this has not been confirmed.According to a comment made to Bitcoin Magazine by Western Union’s Director of Global Corporate Communications Kristin Kelly, it does appear the remittance giant is interested in using the digital currency for “settlements” but declined to elaborate.
“We have had preliminary discussions with Ripple regarding a pilot settlement project, but it is too early to discuss details at this time," Kelly said.
The announcement of the possible partnership was made by Ripple Labs’ co-founder and CEO Chris Larsen during a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference on financial inclusion.
“We’re trying to solve the problem of connecting local banks and financial institutions to the global economy," Larsen said during the panel. "We have this problem where we have a variety of different networks, whether they are in the U.S. or Kenya or Europe — they’re not connected. You can make a phone call to anyone with a phone number and you can send an email to anybody with an email address, but you can only pay people that are in your payment network. The goal is —how do you get all of these things operating together?”
Other members of the panel were Western Union’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Technology David Thompson, MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth Executive Director Shamina Singh, Safaricom and M-Pesa CEO Bob Collymore, and founder and CEO of Abra Bill Barhydt.Thompson, who declined to comment, previously admitted to being interested in, and even mining, digital currency in the past. He also has said Western Union was taking note of digital currencies but was taking a passive “watch and see” approach.
If the program does come to fruition, it would mark a dramatic change of policy by the global remittance giant and an advancement for the digital currency industry.