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 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.

Amun AG Launches XRP ETP on Swiss Stock Exchange SIX

SIX, Switzerland’s major stock exchange, announced on their official website that a cryptocurrency-based exchange-traded product (ETP) – Amun Ripple XRP (AXRP) – will be launched on April 2nd 2019. This ETP will be tracking the price of Ripple (XRP) and it will be the first-ever XRP ETP launched on the market.

The exchange-traded product was created and developed by Amun AG. The company first revealed their plans of launching an XRP ETP last month. CEO and co-founder Hany Rashwan had disclosed at that time that the company had been granted approval from the main stock exchange to issue the product.

Following today’s announcement, Amun AG has now a total of four cryptocurrency ETP products listed on the SIX exchange. Amun AG has been granted the approval to issue ETP linked to other digital assets such as Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS, and Stellar (XLM). The company aims to list all these approved cryptocurrency-based ETPs on the SIX exchange by the end of this year. However, CEO Rashwan specifically mentioned that the launch would depend on buyer’s interest.

According to the public release, all four ETP products have been developed and issued by Amun AG’s own platform – the Amun Onyx. Respectively, the platform also handles and oversees the products once they go live on the SIX exchange.

Meanwhile, the company has revealed that it is also signing on external customers to use the Onyx platform to launch their own traditional and tokenized exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

In addition to that, last November the company launched another ETP called “Amun Crypto Basket Index” with the ticker symbol HODL. This ETP can track the top 5 cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization and liquidity, which are Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC).

Amun’s interest in launching the XRP ETP was speculated to be due to a recent $4 million funding round, which was led by Graham Tuckwell, the first person to set up an ETF which tracked the valuation of gold.

Rashwan has stated that he wants the company to make investing in cryptocurrency “as easy as buying a stock.” Their goal is to create an easy, safe and regulated path for investors to access the crypto asset class. He further declared that as long as any cryptocurrency has “sufficient liquidity, good development records, and no nefarious activity,” Amun AG would continue developing and issuing ETP products on the market.

Last but not least, CEO Rashwan has revealed that the firm plans to have 6 to 8 additional launches this year, including other strategies, more single asset ETPs and more indices.

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.

New York Department of Financial Services Approves Coinbase’s Application to Form Custody Trust

According to an official announcement published on October 23rd, Coinbase has received approval from New York regulators to offer their cryptocurrency custody servives within the state of New York.

The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced that it granted Coinbase’s application to create the Coinbase Custody Trust Company LLC, as well as approving the Coinbase Trust to provide a limited range of custody services for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ripple (XRP) and Litecoin (LTC).

Particularly, whilst Coinbase already allows customers to buy, sell or trade the other cryptocurrencies, it does not currently offer XRP on any of its trading platforms.

Coinbase COO and president Asiff Hirji has highly appraised this decision, citing that the NYDFS has been “a strong advocate” for the “responsible growth of the cryptocurrency industry.”

“The New York State Limited Purpose Trust charter, which now enables Coinbase Custody to act as a Qualified Custodian for crypto assets, builds on our unparalleled success as a crypto custodian while holding the company to the same exacting fiduciary standards and oversight of other, mature financial institutions operating in New York.” – Asiff Hirji

Coinbase launched its custody services ‘Coinbase Custody’ in July with the focus on institutional customers and set up to store large amounts of cryptocurrency. Apparently the product utilizes a range of security measures, including “on-chain segregation of crypto assets,” “offline, multi-sig and geographically distributed transaction protection” and “robust cold storage auditing and reporting.”

In August, Coinbase announced plans to add 40 new assets to its custodian service. The crypto assets in question, however, may be added “for storage only,” as Coinbase is not currently considering the assets for trading.

Coinbase has been looking for regulatory approval for a number of other products as well. Back in June, the platform announced it was seeking a broker-dealer license, an alternative trading system license and a registered investment advisor license through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  Asiff Hirji has pointed out that should Coinbase receives approval for these licenses, the exchange platform would be able to provide and offer blockchain based securities products.

Respectively, Coinbase is not the only cryptocurrency platform that has been approved to offer its custody services; for instance a number of other cryptocurrency startups have started to gain regulatory approval to offer custody services, including BitGo, Northern Trust and Prime Trust, among others.