Banco Santander is launching a new international payments service, dubbed “OnePay FX,” based on blockchain technology. The service is available to retail customers in Spain, U.K., Brazil and Poland, and will be rolled out across more countries in the coming months. The OnePay FX app is available from the App Store for iOS devices.
Banco Santander is one of the world’s largest banks with 133 million customers, 13,700 branches and 200,000 employees. With the launch of OnePay FX, Santander will become the first bank to offer a blockchain-based international payments service to retail customers in multiple countries simultaneously. The bank intends to make OnePay FX significantly faster than existing international payment services and to introduce instant international payments in other countries, besides the four countries supported at this moment, before the summer.
“Transfers to Europe can be made on the same day and we are aiming to deliver instant transfers across several markets by the summer,” said Ana Botín, Executive Chairman of Banco Santander. “Our goal is to help the thousands of people who use international payments services every day, and we will be adding more currencies and destinations in the coming months.”
Botín told the Financial Times that she was particularly keen to encourage the project — which took two years to develop — after seeing her son using a rival service to rapidly transfer money into Spain, adding that the Santander group aims to eventually make OnePay FX available as a standalone app that could be used by customers at other banks.
OnePay FX is built on xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise software solution for cross-border interbank payments with end-to-end tracking. The xCurrent platform allows banks to message each other in real-time to confirm payment details before initiating a transaction, and to confirm delivery once it settles.
With xCurrent, Ripple wants to offer a flexible, real-time, cross-currency settlement solution that enables banks to differentiate themselves by offering new cross-border payments services while lowering their total cost of settlement. “The solution is specifically designed to meet the needs of banks by fitting within their existing risk, compliance and information security frameworks,” notes a Ripple solution outline. “Ripple’s software is installed within the bank’s infrastructure and is built to interface with the bank’s systems.”
“Ripple’s products, including xCurrent, help financial institutions across the globe enhance their customer experience by making the global movement of money more fluid,” said senior Ripple VP Marcus Treacher. “With OnePay FX, Santander customers in can now send payments across borders in a fast and simple way.”
xCurrent, is built around an open, neutral protocol, Interledger Protocol (ILP), which enables interoperation between different ledgers and networks. According to Ripple, xCurrent offers a cryptographically secure, end-to-end payment flow with transaction immutability and information redundancy.
“OnePay FX uses blockchain-based technology to provide a fast, simple and secure way to transfer money internationally — offering value, transparency, and the trust and service customers expect from a bank like Santander,” continued Botín. “From today, customers in the U.K. can use OnePay to transfer money across Europe and to the U.S. In Spain, customers can transfer to the U.K. and U.S., while customers in Brazil and Poland can transfer to the U.K.”
In a 2015 paper titled “The Fintech 2.0 Paper: Rebooting financial services,” Santander Innoventures, the $200 million fintech venture capital fund of Santander Group, issued “a call to action to banks, financial institutions and financial technology (fintech) businesses to work together to undertake a fundamental ‘reboot’ of the core processes, systems and infrastructure of the banking industry.”
Santander Innoventures is an investor in Ripple. “Santander has long been an advocate for modernizing banking infrastructure,” said Mariano Belinky, managing partner of Santander InnoVentures, commenting on the announcement of the fund’s investment in Ripple. “We believe Ripple possesses the talent, technology and momentum to address many of these scenarios.”
In a 2016 pilot project, Santander U.K. tested Ripple’s blockchain technology for international payments. The iOS app used in the pilot project worked in connection with Apple Pay.
“Blockchain technology offers tremendous opportunities to improve the services we offer our customers, and the launch of Santander OnePay FX is the first of many potential applications,” concluded Botín. According to Ripple, frictions in global payments will be eliminated as more financial institutions like Santander adopt and build upon Ripple solutions.