A group of seven banks have used Ripple, a blockchain-based technology, to move actual money across international borders, marking the first time that blockchain has been used in a real-world fintech context using money, rather than a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, between financial institutions.
At the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Payments Panorama 2016 conference in Calgary on June 16, provincial crown corporation financial institution ATB Financial sent €666.67 to ReiseBank in Germany using Ripple, with technological involvement from Accenture and SAP, reducing a transaction that would normally have taken three days through the existing SWIFT system down to about eight seconds.
“Using blockchain technology, ATB Financial became the first financial institution in Canada to complete an overseas payment in a matter of seconds,” said Curtis Stange, ATB’s Chief Strategy & Operations Officer. “Without blockchain, that transaction would have taken two to six business days. Blockchain is transforming the way we store and move value. While there’s still a great deal to learn, the transaction we performed proves we can significantly reduce the time it takes to move money across borders. This could revolutionize banking for our customers.”
The transfer is considered a pilot project and a step toward proving viability for commercialization of new types of high-volume global transactions, drastically reducing the time and cost of settling large-scale cross-border movements of real-world currencies between banks.
Two Canadian banks, CIBC and Albertas’s ATB Financial, participated in the international cross-border exercise along with Switzerland’s UBS, Germany’s ReiseBank, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Santander and UniCredit.
“Distributed ledger technology has the potential to transform the financial industry and greatly improve our client experience by making it easier and faster to move money globally,” said Phil Griffiths, Senior Vice President, Global Transaction Banking at CIBC. “Working with partners like Ripple, we are excited to be collaborating on this journey to be at the forefront of these innovative new developments for our clients.”
Ripple claims to have completed 30 pilots of its technology, with approximately 90 interested banks in its customer pipeline, and 10 banks already in a commercial production deal phase.
“We’ve reached a tipping point where financial institutions are moving beyond blockchain experimentation and projects to real world applications that are driving significant bank-to-bank volume,” said Ripple CEO and co-founder Chris Larsen. “This is a major step forward for the global financial system, and as the Ripple network grows, together we are paving the way for new connected commerce opportunities and growing demands for real-time, high volume, low value global payments.”
Ripple is a venture-backed startup with offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Sydney and Luxembourg, which has developed a blockchain-based global financial settlement solution to give rise to what it’s calling the Internet of Value (IoV).
Cost of interbank settlement through direct transactions will be greatly reduced using Ripple’s blockchain XRP digital asset.
Just over a week ago, XRP II, LLC, an affiliate of Ripple Labs Inc., was granted a license by the New York State Department of Financial Services for a virtual currency license.
With the other main story in blockchain news being the Ethereum-based DAO venture fund being hacked to the tune of US$60 million, this significant moment during which a real-world example of blockchain being used to revolutionize a real-world application like transferring national currencies across international borders was almost overshadowed.
Watch ATB Financial Director of Innovation Tim Wan make the transfer in the Twitter video below.
— Matt White (@FinextraMatt) June 16, 2016
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