Earlier this week, Ripple announced a new agreement with The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to help banks in the nation improve their payments infrastructure. This announcement comes several weeks after Ripple’s CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, unofficially revealed the partnership at the Blockchain Connect Conference in San Francisco.
The partnership will allow several banks from the Middle Eastern nation to use Ripple’s xCurrent technology to improve domestic and international transactions. Following the Bank of England, SAMA is the second central bank to partner with Ripple in a bid to use the blockchain-powered remittance system to improve everyday dealings.
Although many associate Ripple with the XRP cryptocurrency, the company largely focuses on introducing new methods of currency exchange, remittance and similar financial services. Ripple’s announcement called the partnership ground-breaking and confirmed that SAMA is the first central bank to launch a pilot program of this size.
Coindesk’s Stan Higgins notes that the move is unsurprising given recent interest in the startup’s technology by other financial institutions. Just a day earlier, Abu-Dhabi-based remittance company, UAE Exchange, reportedly signed a deal involving the use of RippleNet for their cross-border payments.
Earlier this month, Spanish Banking Group, Santander, also announced a Ripple-centered mobile app which will cover four countries. Although the app won’t utilize Ripple’s XRP token, it will make heavy use of xCurrent, the same technology to be used by Saudi Arabia’s central bank.
Almost since its inception, Ripple has placed a strong emphasis on having its tech adopted by banks and other financial institutions. It has teamed up with many different entities in the financial sector, with names such as American Express and UBS listed among Ripple’s official partners. News that remittance giant Western Union is showing an interest in Ripple, however, could mark the biggest introduction to the startup’s clientele.
An earnings call held the day before the SAMA announcement revealed that Western Union is looking to use not just Ripple’s blockchain tech, but also its cryptocurrency. The latter is particularly important since XRP acts as the backbone of the company and provides a large portion of its financial stability.
During the call, Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek said that his firm is looking to explore multiple venues involving blockchain, with a spokesperson later confirming that XRP is among them. While Ripple has hinted towards working with Western Union as far back as 2015, this marks the first time the global money transfer company confirmed their partnership.