Siam Commercial Bank Working with Ripple for Cross-Border Payments Application

Thailand’s oldest bank Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is collaborating with Ripple to develop a mobile application powered by blockchain to offer real-time low-cost cross-border payments.

According to a blog post published on January 8, Ripple announced the launch of a new application – dubbed the SCB Easy – which has already been demonstrated back in December during Swell, the company’s annual customer event. The demo app displayed its ability to send cross-border payments in seconds.

At the meeting, SCB’s senior vice president of commercial banking, Arthit Sriumporn, displayed how the app runs as well as explained the advatanges of their app:

“It is so difficult to send and receive money today. People must physically go to a bank branch, fill out long and complicated forms and wait for payments to be received—with no transparency. With our service, their loved ones from abroad can transfer payment and receive money immediately.”

Sriumporn then proceeded to show the app in action by sending a payment to recipient’s bank account and within 40 seconds, the money was transferred.

As a result of this partnership, SCB will be able to fulfill its 16 million customer demands for fast and secure low cost cross-border payments as well as provide a better customer experience.

In addition to that, SCB and Ripple are working together to provide EMVCo QR payments via the app. Whilst QR payments are a popular payment method across Southeast Asia, they are typically only used in the local areas.

However, by capitalizing on this, it will allow SCB to provide micro payment services to clients along with remittances. A recent research conducted by PwC reported that a staggering 86% of Chinese citizens use mobile payment apps and in Thailand, the numbers rise as high as 67%.

In the meantime, the senior vice president took the stage to also discuss their journey and the plans for the future.

The 112-year-old SCB is Thailand’s first domestic bank as well as the largest bank in terms of assets. In 2018 the bank reported assets in value of 3,187 billion baht ($105 billion) and an operating income of 138.2 billion baht ($4.6 billion).

Following this new app development, the bank aims to improve customer experience as well as expand its reach to other countries.

This year, SCB plans to expand into Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, where less than 35% of the population have bank accounts. One of the features of SCB Easy is that it allows opening new accounts online, without actually visiting a physical location.

“One connection equals many possibilities,” Sriumporn explained on stage at Swell.

Sriumporn expressed excitement in working with Ripple’s technology and is happy to offer this unique service to its customers as well as to tourists and new customers:

“Imagine you are a tourist coming to Thailand, and you can use your home country mobile application to scan for payment and eliminate the need to exchange for local currency. You can use your mobile app, scan the QR payment and receive goods right away.” 

Ripple Completes $50 Million Investment in MoneyGram

Money transfer company MoneyGram has announced that it has received another $20 million from blockchain service provider Ripple, thus completing a $50 million investment commitment. The funds will go to supporting the use of On-Demand Liquidity, a global payments product that uses XRP.

According to a press release on November 25th, San Francisco-based Ripple Labs has made a final $20 million equity investment in MoneyGram as part of Ripple’s original $50 million equity investment commitment.

In June, Ripple pledged $50 million total and made an initial payment of $30 million. The two companies then entered into a 2 year strategic partnership with the goal to invest in cross-border payments as well as foreign exchange settlements with digital assets.

The funds will be used to support MoneyGram’s continuing use of Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity service. By using the Ripple-linked digital asset XRP, the global payments product – XRapid – eliminates delays in global payments while also dramatically lowering their cost, thus making cross-border payments instant and inexpensive.

The most recent investment acquired shares at a price of $4.10 each, which is 30% higher than the current market price of just over $3. At the moment, Ripple now owns almost 10% of the company’s outstanding common stock and around 15% on a fully-diluted basis including non-voting warrants held by Ripple.

Following the news, Alex Holmes – MoneyGram Chairman and CEO – has stated:

“Our partnership with Ripple is transformative for both the traditional money transfer and digital asset industry – for the first time ever, we’re settling currencies in seconds.”

He further noted that partnerships with companies such as Ripple support and encourage innovation, and allowing them to invest in creating better customer experiences. Following this partnership, Holmes fully anticipates exploring new products and services.

Holmes also commented on initial successes using the On-Demand Liquidity product —Ripple’s XRP-powered payments platform. Since Moneygram’s partnership with Ripple in June, the company has used the service to move around 10% of its Mexican Peso foreign exchange volume. In addition to that, it has expanded its cross-border transactions to Europe, Australia, and the Philippines.

According to the press release, the new funding will also allow the firm to continue using On-Demand Liquidity to increase its trading volume.

Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, also commented on its partnership with Moneygram, noting that he was encouraged by how much progress had been made since Ripple made its first investment in June. He further added:

“Digital assets and blockchain technology have the potential to make a tremendous impact on cross-border payments – MoneyGram and Ripple is an example of that.”

Ripple Acquires Iceland Crypto Trading Firm Algrim

Ripple, has announced its acquisition of Iceland-based crypto trading firm Algrim, with the goal to further expand its presence in Europe and help provide a better service to customers. In addition to that, the firm is expanding its engineering team with the new acquisition.

The new acquisition and expansion in Iceland will help advance Ripple’s global reach, as well as bring in strategic partners and financial institutions to RippleNet. Currently, the crypto firm has over 200 customers signed on to RippleNet with over a dozen customers leveraging XRP in cross-border transactions.

However, no financial details about the acquisition have been made public. Moreover, this is Ripple’s first expansion in Iceland. At the moment, Ripple has offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Mumbai, Singapore, São Paulo and Sydney.

According to the news, Ripple welcomes six new engineers to Ripple’s ranks, who will focus on integrations with partner crypto exchanges. The new team will also focus on the ongoing development of Ripple’s On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) product which utilizes XRP for production cross-border payments.

The ODL payment service allows companies to transfer funds from one currency to XRP and from XRP to another currency. As such, companies are able to avoid opening a bank account in countries they want to send payments to. According to the company, more than a dozen customers are using XRP for cross-border transactions.

Christopher Kanaan, SVP of Engineering, has stated that the team addition will be pivotal in continuing the development of their ODL.

“We’ve been committed to sourcing expert crypto and trading talent in key global markets since day one, and the acquisition of the Algrim engineering team is a successful example of doing just that.”

The former Algrim team will include seasoned industry executive Dadi Armannsson, and will help provide Ripple with more than a decade’s worth of experience building trading platforms. Over the last two years, Algrim has spent time to develop its crypto trading platform integrating over 30 markets. Prior to this, the team spent over a decade building traditional trading platforms and foreign exchange trading algorithms.

Algrim CEO Dadi Armannsson has affirmed in a statement that joining Ripple was natural as both firms share a vision to facilitate the widespread adoption of blockchain technology and digital assets.

“We are big believers in XRP and the XRP Ledger, and eager to help build the future of payments at Ripple,” he further added.

Both team acquisitions point to Ripple’s strong market momentum and focus on attracting and developing the best in engineering talent.

The news follows Ripple’s announcement on Friday of its acquisition of Logos Network – an incubator that invests in businesses building in the XRP ecosystem – adding eight new engineers to the Xpring team, who will focus on exploring and building XRP-related decentralized finance (DeFi) products. This acquisition streak displays Ripple’s strong market momentum and focus on attracting and developing the best in engineering talent.

Controversy Around Coinbase Continues After the Neutrino Acquisition

Coinbase, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges in the United States, is currently one of the hot topics in the crypto community, as Christine Sandler – director of institutional sales at Coinbase – has defended the exchange’s controversial acquisition of blockchain intelligence platform Neutrino.

She disclosed in an interview the company’s decision to acquire the start-up as well as their decision to list XRP on their exchange, the third largest cryptocurrency, despite speculation over the coin being classified as security in the future.

Coinbase first announced their acquisition of Neutrino on February 19th, stating that the start-up’s blockchain technology tools will be a great asset to the company, particularly Neutrino’s advanced blockchain analytics tools, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) as well as Know Your Customer (KYC).

However, days after the announcement, it was brought to light that the team behind the project, namely the CEO – Giancarlo Russo, CTO – Alberto Ornaghi, and CRO – Marco Valleri were all formerly involved with commercial software firm Hacking Team. The team used to sell spyware tools to governments as well as law enforcement agencies well-known for human rights abuse including and not limited to torturing.

In response to the crypto community’s outrage over these connections — which trended on Twitter with the #DeleteCoinbase — Sandler defended the exchange’s decision, revealing that it was important they leave their current providers due to their data selling practices:

“We are aware of the backgrounds of some of the folks that were involved in Neutrino […] It was important for us to migrate away from our current providers. They were selling client data to outside sources and it was compelling for us to get control over that and have proprietary technology that we could leverage to keep the data safe and protect our clients.”

She further added that the “compelling reason” behind acquiring Neutrino was because they had “some really industry leading best in class technology.”

Recently, the news about Coinbase listing XRP created a lot of buzz in the community, considering the platform’s prior concerns over the speculation of the coin being a security. Even though this was one of the most anticipated news to the XRP community, other communities within the crypto space did not seem gleeful over the announcement. More so, this news was soon followed with allegations of insider trading.

In response to insider trading allegations, Ripple’s head of markets has taken to social media to clarify and stress out that Coinbase’s decision to list XRP was an independent one, effectively squashing rumours that Ripple had either paid or offered the exchange an incentive to do so.

Coinbase Enables XRP Trading on its Platform

Giant crypto exchange Coinbase has announced its plans to add XRP, the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap and one of the world’s most controversial cryptocurrencies, to the list of virtual currencies traded on its platform.

Coinbase announced on Monday, through an official blog post, that it would be listing XRP on its trading platform, Coinbase Pro, in “transfer-only” mode, meaning users can only deposit tokens for now. In an attempt to avoid market manipulation, Coinbase stated it would roll out the XRP listing in phases, beginning with a 12-hour period where it is accepting inbound XRP deposits. After that, the company said it would begin to fulfill orders and execute trades, however this timeline is subject to changes.

Full trading of XRP will be available to customers in the U.S., Canada, the European Union, the U.K, Singapore and Australia. Coinbase may expand its services to other countries in the future.

According to the blog post:

 “The [XRP] ledger is powered by a network of peer-to-peer servers. All accounts on this network can send or receive XRP to/from each other, while XRP can be used to send underlying fiat currencies between two parties. In this way, XRP can function as a bridge currency in transactions involving different currencies such as US dollars, Japanese yen, Euros, Francs, and others in use on the XRP network.”

XRP is a digital asset tied to a ledger that’s used for cross-border payments. The virtual coin has provoked controversy for its tangled history with Ripple, a startup that owns the vast majority of XRP—a stockpile worth billions of dollars—in reserve.

Ripple Labs, its subsidiary XRP II and a number of individuals affiliated with the XRP cryptocurrency are currently defendants in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that XRP is a security issued by the payments startup, a claim which has been denied by Ripple.

Over the past several months, Coinbase Pro has been actively expanding its list of tokens supported on the platform. In August 2018, it added support for Ethereum Classic (ETC), followed by Basic Attention Token (BAT) and privacy-oriented altcoin Zcash (ZEC) in November.

The addition of XRP to Coinbase has been long-awaited by the crypto community. In January 2018, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong put down rumors that the exchange was adding support for XRP in the short term.

Presently, XRP received a massive boost following this week’s announcement. This also resulted in the market cap of XRP shooting up to $13 billion, trailing to Ethereum’s $14 billion.