Banks Turn Remittance Obstacles into Opportunities with Ripple

Over the last ten years, changes wrought from the 2008 financial crisis along with a marked increase in fraud and terrorism funding concerns, have consolidated the world’s system of correspondent banking. Despite positive macro-economic trends and an increasingly interconnected commerce sector, de-risking efforts at large financial institutions have shrunk the world’s correspondent banking relationships by as much as 25% according to research by Accuity.

The result is a growing pool of regional banks that struggle to affordably and securely serve the international transactions needs of their customers. This increase in regional banks is leaving large segments of the world’s population excluded from mainstream financial systems.

Eroding market share for regional banks

This disconnect in correspondent banking has driven up the cost of remittances in smaller, riskier regions, even while overall remittance prices have fallen in larger developed countries. For regional banks, this impacts their ability to serve customer needs and ultimately diminishes their financial performance.

This is because consumers will not simply walk away from international transactions. Immigrants or refugees must get money to their families, expatriates need to manage finances in multiples countries.

So as in any natural ecosystem, when these consumers encounter one barrier they move towards another opportunity. With bank-based remittance prices too high or simply unavailable in these regions, customers are turning to money transfer operators (MTOs) like Western Union or MoneyGram.

MTOs are better able to serve customers because remittances are a core product — rather than a cost center like at smaller banks — allowing them to be more creative in its delivery. Customers turning to MTOs means significant erosion of market share for banks.

To counter this trend, regional banks are becoming increasingly creative in building remittance and money transfer corridors. By creating long chains of partner banks across countries, they can link currencies through multiple “hops.”

Unfortunately, these hops introduce additional risk — especially as some bank or currency partners operate in less than transparent ways — and add layers of extra cost in partner and FX fees. And the more remote the remittance corridor, the murkier and more cost prohibitive the transaction for the consumer.

Enter RippleNet and xCurrent

So what’s a regional bank to do? They need to overcome two barriers: the risk inherent to a multiple-hop corridor and finding banking partners to create new corridors.

xCurrent and RippleNet solve both issues. First, xCurrent provides groundbreaking speed that enables regional banks to send and settle money instantly, and with new end-to-end messaging tied to settlement, it also creates a new level of transparency.

RippleNet solves the second piece of the puzzle for regional banks. The decentralized network of banks across the world is over 100 strong. Next week in Dubai, members of the network will meet to forge new connections and discuss how they use Ripple technology — sharing lessons learned and best practices.

For regional banks, events like these provide a critical opportunity to create relationships that open new remittance corridors. Together with new technology, these relationships level the playing field for regional banks — they can now  overcome both the cost and risk associated with the traditional correspondent banking model and better service their customers’ needs.

For more on the xCurrent and our other solutions, visit our website.

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fix1571 is Now Available

As previously announced, the fix1571 amendment became enabled on the XRP Ledger on 2018-06-19. Furthermore, the fix1623 amendment is expected to become enabled on 2018-06-20, followed by the fix1543 amendment on 2018-06-21.

Action Required

  • If you operate a rippled server, you should upgrade to version 1.0.1 (or higher) immediately.

For instructions on upgrading rippled on supported platforms, see Updating rippled on supported platforms.

Impact of Not Upgrading

If you operate a rippled server on a version older than 1.0.0, then your server is now amendment blocked, meaning that your server:

  • Cannot determine the validity of a ledger
  • Cannot submit or process transactions
  • Does not participate in the consensus process
  • Does not vote on future amendments
  • Could rely on potentially invalid data

fix1571 Summary

Changes Escrow to fix the following issues:

  • Changes the EscrowCreate transaction to require the Condition or FinishAfter field (or both). Escrows with neither Condition nor FinishAfter that were created before this amendment can be finished by anyone at any time before their CancelAfter time.
  • Fixes a flaw that incorrectly prevents time-based Escrows from being finished in some circumstances.

Learn More

Related documentation is available in the XRP Ledger Dev Portal, including detailed example API calls and web tools for API testing.

Other resources:

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rippled Version 1.0.1

Ripple has released rippled version 1.0.1, which includes fixes for issues identified by Ripple engineers and reported by external security researchers. These issues, when exploited, could cause a rippled instance to restart or, in some circumstances, stop executing.

While these issues can result in a denial of service attack, none affect the integrity of the XRP Ledger and no user funds, including XRP, are at risk.

Action Required

If you operate a rippled server, then you should upgrade to rippled version 1.0.1 as soon as possible.

Impact of Not Upgrading

  • If you operate a rippled server, but do not upgrade to version 1.0.1 as soon as possible, then your server may experience restarts or outages.

Upgrading

For instructions on updating rippled on supported platforms, see Updating rippled.

The SHA-256 for the RPM is: 4bfa27b0e1e1979f2bc042edb9dd11ae4119dac6be087813dadcc67572877189

The SHA-256 for the source RPM is: 60279abc65476b0a96ddedcd23338ce1c6fb5481ab94fe8b8c856448044e3ebe

For other platforms, please compile v1.0.1 from source. See the rippled source tree for instructions by platform. For instructions building rippled from source on Ubuntu Linux, see Install rippled on Ubuntu.

The first log entry should be the change setting the version:

commit 8429dd67e60ba360da591bfa905b58a35638fda1
Author: Nik Bougalis 
Date:   Mon Jun 4 16:36:22 2018 -0700

      Set version to 1.0.1

Network Update

The Ripple operations team plans to deploy version 1.0.1 to all rippled servers under its operational control, including private clusters, starting at 3:00 PM PST on Thursday, 2018-06-14. The deployment is expected to complete within 5 hours. The network should continue to operate during deployment and no outage is expected.

Other Information

Acknowledgements

Ripple thanks Guido Vranken for discovering and responsibly disclosing an off-by-one error in the base64 decoder logic when handling malformed input.

Bug Bounties and Responsible Disclosures

Ripple welcomes reviews of the rippled codebase and urges reviewers to responsibly disclose any issues that they may find. For more on Ripple’s Bug Bounty program, please visit https://ripple.com/bug-bounty/.

Boost Compatibility

When compiling rippled from source, you must use a compatible version of the Boost library. Ripple recommends Boost 1.64.0 for all platforms.

Other compatible versions differ by platform. Boost 1.58.0 is compatible on Linux but not on Windows. On macOS, Boost 1.58.0 is not compatible with the Clang compiler version 4.0+.

Learn, ask questions, and discuss

Related documentation is available in the XRP Ledger Developer Portal, including detailed reference information, tutorials, and web tools.

Other resources:

Upcoming Features

The previously introduced fix1543, fix1571 and fix1623 Amendments in XRP Ledger version 1.0.0 are now open for voting. Ripple expects these amendments to become enabled on Tuesday, 2018-06-19.

An upcoming version of rippled will switch to using the Boost.Beast library instead of the Beast library from the rippled source code. As part of this change, the minimum supported version of Boost will change to be a version incorporating Boost.Beast.

Ripple does not expect to enable the SHAMapV2, Tickets, or OwnerPaysFee Amendments before the next release of rippled. These Amendments have been disabled in the source code so rippled version 1.0.1 will not show them as available. Ripple plans to re-introduce some or all of these amendments in a future version of rippled.

1.0.1 Change Log

Bug Fixes

  • Improve JSON exception handling

  • Fix a corner case when decoding base64: Under some corner cases, the base64 decoder would not allocate enough memory, which could result in spurious errors.

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Democratizing Global Payments: xRapid’s Cost Savings and Benefits

At Ripple, we want to see digital assets used in a way that goes beyond making payments faster for businesses. We want to see the technology used to create a positive change in the world.

The Ripple mission of establishing an Internet of Value depends on the reaching two critical thresholds. The first is something we’ve highlighted consistently — that money can move like information, instantly. The critical second piece to the puzzle is that money can move at little to no cost.

While the economic potential for this vision has vast industry implications, it’s perhaps more important to evaluate its impact on the end user.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at the world’s remittance market and how specifically, our solution xRapid, if adopted on a global scale, could provide lasting impact for families around the world.

The global remittance market

Remittance payments are big business today: Total global payments are close to $600 billion annually. The fees associated with these payments total near $30 billion per year. Yet, the majority of them are small, according to the World Bank, averaging about $500 each.

Together with data about where these payments originate and end up, this data suggests that the majority of remittance payments are sent from individuals working abroad to loved ones in the developing world. These individuals are often working several jobs and their families back home depend on these funds to survive and grow.

Estimating new savings and benefits

The recent published results of xRapid pilots offer a critical takeaway: Financial institutions who use it save between 40-70 percent on traditional foreign exchange costs, a savings that can be passed down onto consumers — those sending remittance payments.

As more companies adopt this type of technology, we expect cost savings, along with a better payment experience, will be passed directly to the user. In economics, this is the idea of “perfect competition.” It means no one can company can control price, and ultimately, consumer benefits.

The $30 billion cost of global remittances, if reduced by a savings of 55% from xRapid, would lead to a global savings of $16.5 billion. To realize what this could do for a family in a developing country, we looked at the cost of living in the top 5 remittance destinations in the world: India, China, Philippines, Mexico and Pakistan.

We found the estimated $16.5 billion in savings could provide 3.27 billion meals (at an average cost of $4.13 per meal), 263.07 million monthly bills (at an average of $51.32 per month) and rent for 49.9 million people (at an average of $273.34).

These benefits illustrate just some of the ways in which lowering the cost of remittance payments could have major positive impacts on real people. They also help to realize a vision for the digital asset space that’s been around since creation of the first assets.

To learn more about Ripple’s vision to establish an Internet of Value visit our website.

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Why Open Protocols Are the First Step in the Distributed Ledger Movement

In the 90’s, the Internet protocol (IP) caught on quickly. This standardized communications protocol along with a suite of others, such as HTTP and SMTP, allowed the Internet to interoperate and connect making it possible, for example, for you to quickly send things like emails across different servers.

This adoption of common protocols spurred innovation and allowed the industry to continue to develop both new services on top of IP (web, streaming and IoT) and new technologies below it (faster Ethernet standards, 5G mobile and better WiFi).

In the same way IP became a universal format for sharing data across many different networks and beneath many different applications, the Interledger Protocol (ILP) an open protocol suite for sending payments across different ledgers will become the universal format for sharing payments across many different ledgers.

Standardization in Banking

For Ripple, ILP is an important component of our product strategy. We hear from many of our banking customers that it’s imperative to keep their transactions private, process thousands every second, and accommodate every type of currency and asset imaginable.

That’s why we integrated ILP into xCurrent so that it could help process instant and certain transactions across an infinite number of ledgers including blockchains like the XRP Ledger. This approach takes the best of blockchain but addresses its key limitations, which separates Ripple from blockchain companies and consortiums still stuck doing experiments.

By connecting bank ledgers and existing infrastructure investments via ILP, banks are taking the first steps in improving global payments today and in enabling a true Internet of Value.

Scaling Global Payments

But improvements to the current payments infrastructure alone are not enough. Many banks are still getting squeezed from one side by larger correspondents. Only a small group of these correspondent banks have the capability to manage liquidity efficiently, forcing the rest to pay exorbitant costs for their services.

These costs are so high that the number of correspondent banking relationships is decreasing, with non-bank payment companies stepping in to fill the void, offering lower costs and higher speeds, squeezing banks from the other side. It’s important for banks to also have a long-term plan to deal with competition and to attract and retain customers.

The next step after banks can connect proprietary ledgers is to enable settlement with an open digital asset. This provides on-demand liquidity and reduces expensive foreign exchange costs.

Ripple’s approach of settling with XRP concentrates liquidity around a universal asset without a counterparty, enabling any participant to contribute to the pools of liquidity and draw from them. Already, early adopters are seeing the benefit of using public liquidity pools between fiat and XRP with xRapid.

A Payments Infrastructure for the Future

It’s not enough to just repackage outdated technology with a fancy user interface and use buzzwords to sell it. At Ripple, we are focused on building a robust network for the future where our solutions lay the framework for payments for the next 50 years or longer.

This starts with providing technology that the current financial structure is comfortable with: xCurrent, blockchain technology that provides cryptographically secure transactions across a dispersed network of ledgers and integrates easily with existing systems.

In the near future, we anticipate that open ledgers like the XRP Ledger will facilitate instant settlement of payments globally. Banks will adopt products like xRapid that allow for easy transactions between fiat and XRP to substantially lower their liquidity costs.

In the same way that IP dug new plumbing for the Internet, revamping global payments must start at the bottom infrastructure layer and move up from here.

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fix1543, fix1571 & fix1623 Amendments Open for Voting

Previously introduced in rippled version 1.0.0, the fix1543, fix1571 and fix1623 amendments are now open for voting.

  • The fix1543 amendment enforces reserved flag ranges on escrow, payment channel, and ticket transactions.
  • The fix1571 amendment changes the EscrowCreate transaction to require the Condition or FinishAfter field (or both) and also fixes a flaw that incorrectly prevents time-based Escrows from being finished in some circumstances.
  • The fix1623 amendment adds delivered amount metadata to CheckCash transactions that cash a check for a flexible amount.

Action Required

If you operate a rippled server, then you should upgrade to version 1.0.0 by Tuesday, 2018-06-19 00:00:00 UTC, for service continuity.

Impact of Not Upgrading

If you operate a rippled server but don’t upgrade to version 1.0.0 by Tuesday, 2018-06-19, when the fix1543, fix1571 and fix1623 amendments are expected to become enabled on the network, then your server will become amendment blocked, meaning that your server:

  • Cannot determine the validity of a ledger
  • Cannot submit or process transactions
  • Does not participate in the consensus process
  • Does not vote on future amendments
  • Could rely on potentially invalid data

If the fix1543, fix1571 and fix1623 amendments do not become enabled, then your server will not become amendment blocked and should continue to operate.

Learn, ask questions, and discuss

Related documentation is available in the XRP Ledger Dev Portal, including detailed example API calls and web tools for API testing.

Other resources:

To continue receiving updates about the rippled server, please subscribe to the Ripple Server Google Group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ripple-server

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American Express and Ripple at Money20/20 Europe: Changing the Cross-Border Payments Experience for SMEs

Small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up the backbone of both dominant and emerging economies today. Yet they are the ones who are most impacted by inefficiencies in cross-border payments system — especially in the context of growing global e-commerce.

To compete, SMEs need to be able to focus on their business, not on whether their supplier receives a payment. Traditional global payments systems involve a lot of intermediaries — not only does this slows down payments, it also introduces more margin for error. According to a recent McKinsey study, 60% of business to business cross-border payments require a manual intervention that takes 20 minutes or more.

The challenges in cross-border payments that SMEs face set the tone for the conversation between Joy Macknight, Deputy Editor of The Banker, Colin O’Flaherty, American Express’s VP & General Manager of global commercial services UK & Russia, and Marcus Treacher, Ripple’s SVP of customer success, on the final day of Money20/20 Europe.

SMEs need to be able to move small amounts of money at high speed, with certainty. Yet they themselves don’t believe this is happening. According to O’Flaherty, 71% of SMEs believe cross-border payments are problematic.

“Ripple offers instantaneous, point-to-point conversations between the sender and receiver of funds,” O’Flaherty said. “And that provides a real opportunity to alleviate most of the issues our customers are facing.”

American Express distinctly understands the issues that SMEs face with traditional banking, from cross-border payments to access to credit. The company’s “Open Forum” is a highly regarded and popular platform for resources and support to help small-to-medium businesses grow.

Together with Ripple the companies are working to address the problems their customers face with cross-border payments. Ripple’s xCurrent provides a new blockchain based infrastructure for global payments. American Express customers are connecting to this infrastructure in a way that is designed for maximum impact and the best possible user experience.

“The consumption of Ripple technology is not a heavy lift for SMEs,” Treacher explained. “This is because we’re implementing within the existing payment networks and banking world.”

With Ripple-powered blockchain helping facilitate transactions behind the scenes, American Express customers in the U.S. are already seeing quicker payments, and O’Flaherty said the business has seen a decline in customer queries about the status of payments.

But it’s not about just a technological interface, O’Flaherty stressed. Ripple and American Express have also aligned from a fraud perspective — risk, user experience and customer service. This has allowed for a “holistic experience” that’s ultimately benefited the customer.

As the conversation came to a close, O’Flaherty affirmed that American Express’s intention is to expand based on successes to date — to focus on making Ripple-enabled services available across new global corridors with the large transaction flows.

“We’re still in the early stages, learning a lot,” said O’Flaherty. “And blockchain offers a big opportunity to solve real customer needs.”

To learn more about how Ripple solutions can improve your customers’ payments experience visit our solutions page.

 

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Ripple CEO at Money20/20 Europe: Blockchain Hype Outpaces Reality

On day one of Money20/20 Europe, leaders from the world’s biggest banks to newly minted FinTech startups focused on two themes – innovation and partnership – with much of the conversation centering on the increasingly important role of blockchain technology across the industry.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse took the conversation one step further. In his fireside chat entitled, “Blockchain, digital assets and reimagining global payments,” Garlinghouse bluntly informed moderator Simon Taylor, co-founder of 11:FS, that “experiments are not a business model” and called attention to the hype outpacing reality in the blockchain and crypto space – noting that “it’s way out of whack.”

“Ripple is going deep with customers, solving real problems and seeing real progress,” Garlinghouse went on to say. He explained that Ripple uses blockchain technology and the digital asset, XRP, to address the major pain points in cross-border payments – making them dramatically faster (from days to minutes), lower cost (40-70% savings) and more transparent (similar to other banking services today).

But Garlinghouse was also quick to point out the difference between Ripple’s solutions and other services, such as Apple Pay, that put a slick front-end on the same old infrastructure.

“Everything that happens below these services – down the stack – hasn’t changed. Ripple’s point of view is that to truly unlock innovation in the payments ecosystem, you have to start way down at the bottom,” Garlinghouse explained. “If you can reset the rail – the base layer – you can really unlock innovation.” In this way, Ripple is just an enabler, a new base layer on which others can build.

So, what would compel banks, in particular, to replace this old infrastructure, questioned Taylor? Garlinghouse provided some color. For Ripple’s customers – everyone from banks to payment providers to corporations looking to improve international payouts – the business case for leveraging blockchain and digital assets is an easy one.

“As a society, we are relying on rails built 50 years ago to enable cross-border transactions,” said Garlinghouse. “Our customers are asking themselves: ‘If I want to be competitive for the next 10 years – for the next 50 – do I want to be dependent on what is effectively a horse and buggy system in a world of Teslas?’”

Garlinghouse was not alone in calling attention to problems with global money transfer. In discussing with Charlotte Hogg, CEO Europe at Visa, the needs of merchants at PayPal, Jim Migats, head of global core payments, noted that cross-border payments should be as easy and affordable as any kind of payment that exists.

Similarly, Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING, used global payments in his keynote as an example of a traditional offering rife for change. This was after emphasizing that banks and financial institutions can no longer differentiate through a product—that they must differentiate through a service or experience.

The conversation then turned to the digital asset, XRP. Garlinghouse shared how Ripple uses XRP as “a tool to fund real-time liquidity” during transactions. Taylor pointed out that XRP provides an alternative to pre-funded nostro and vostro accounts around the world.“

Finally, Garlinghouse highlighted that XRP and the XRP Ledger are open source, and Ripple is only one participant in the XRP ecosystem, that many participants use the asset and build on the XRP Ledger.

When Taylor pointed out that Ripple owns a lot of XRP, Garlinghouse clarified, “Ripple today owns about 60% of XRP. We continue to use it for various incentives to try and build the XRP ecosystem. We have announced a number of different programs around the world – ranging from accelerator programs to those that gain customer adoption.”

One of those program, Garlinghouse concluded, is Ripple’s new University Blockchain Research Initiative. He said, “We’re working with 17 universities around the world and we’re contributing to $50M to fund research in blockchain and cryptocurrency. All boats rise.”

For more, listen to Garlinghouse and Taylor’s discussion on 11:FS’s FinTech Insider podcast on Thursday, June 6.

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Ripple Introduces the University Blockchain Research Initiative

Interest in blockchain is soaring, with a groundswell of activity taking place on the campuses of the world’s top universities. From new business use cases such as making cross-border payments faster, lower cost and more transparent to uses of blockchain for good, students and faculty globally are emerging as major contributors to the creation of a more robust and valuable blockchain and payments ecosystem.

As one of the most mature companies in the space, Ripple is uniquely suited to partner with the academic community and help lead development of this ecosystem. That’s why, today, we’re excited to announce the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), a collaboration with top universities around the world to support and accelerate academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments.

Ripple has committed over $50 million in funding, subject matter expertise and technical resources to UBRI’s first wave of university partners 17 prestigious institutions around the world. These schools will determine their own research topics and priority areas of focus, while also partnering with Ripple to:

  • Collaborate on research and technical development that will stimulate widespread understanding and innovation in blockchain.
  • Create new curriculum to meet high student demand for learning about blockchain, cryptocurrency and other FinTech topics.
  • Stimulate ideas and dialog among students, faculty, technologists and business leaders on topics of shared interest.

The initial UBRI partners represent a broad cross-section of geographies and markets, as well as a rich blend of academic disciplines.

For example, as the regulatory conversation continues to evolve in the public sector, the Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) at Princeton University is creating an UBRI program that will study the policy impact of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the U.S. and around the world.

At The University of Pennsylvania, UBRI is supporting select MBA-MS candidates each year in a newly established Wharton-Engineering dual-degree program. This funding aims to prioritize students working on blockchain or cryptocurrency.

As part of UBRI, Ripple is also participating in MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab’s new FinTech initiative made up of a nearly a dozen companies across the financial services industry to work with groups of CSAIL’s 116+ researchers on topics like blockchain, cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity and global payments.

In Europe, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and the University of Luxembourg are building a new blockchain research program inside their Departments of Computer Science and Engineering with the help of UBRI.

UBRI’s complete list of partners is as follows:

As the traditional backbone of innovation, universities uniquely offer an independence and rigor that the private sector cannot. They also are responsible for training the workforce of the future, helping to address the demand for technological solutions and talent to solve the world’s hardest financial problems.

Now is the perfect time to support research and study in blockchain, cryptocurrency and digital payments at universities around the world.

For more on UBRI as we build the program over the coming year please visit Ripple Insights.

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Live Transaction: Santander’s OnePay FX

Santander recently released OnePay FX — the first mobile application for international payments powered by blockchain technology. Millions of Santander’s customers in Europe now have access to same day, cross-border payments, a critical improvement from the three to five days it traditionally takes to send money internationally.

But the success of this app is not just about the transparency, faster speed and lower costs the service offers. It’s about the fluid, easy customer experience for mobile users. It’s what consumers require and expect in today’s market — whether it’s sending a secure message to a friend, hailing a rideshare or sending money across borders.

In the world of cross-border payments, providing this type of seamless digital experience isn’t as easy as it looks. Many financial institutions have invested large amounts of money into legacy banking systems that make integrating new technology and improving agility difficult. The digital infrastructure required to support better consumer experiences, especially for mobile users, simply doesn’t exist or is severely bogged down by legacy technology investments.

That’s why the deployment Santander’s OnePay FX is so revolutionary. It required technological innovation in the front, middle and back offices — a shift driven by an unwavering commitment to its customers.

With its mobile-first UI and blockchain infrastructure, the OnePay FX app offers remittance customers several new features: 1) the total cost of sending their payment, including bank fees and foreign exchange rates 2) a delivery time quote for improved transparency 3) and a receipt of payment for complete certainty.

No other bank can provide this type of experience. Watch as real money moves from the U.K. to the U.S. via OnePay FX in the video below.

Ana Botín, Santander Group’s executive chairman said that now 50% of the bank’s annual international transfers are carried by the Ripple-powered blockchain. Santander plans to roll out the OnePay FX service to nearly two dozen more countries in the near future — further increasing its utility and value for customers.

For more information on Ripple’s solutions and how they are powering a new wave of global payments, contact us.

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