Ripple used its own parallel Swell event at Swift’s Sibos conference to begin answering the questions of what the company is up to, and is it for real. Its program combined shock and awe — former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke in a chat with Gene Sperling, national economic advisor under two presidents, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Steve Miller Band — with more mundane but pointed content from traditional payment users and Ripple pioneers.
Ahead of Sibos Ripple had announced that more than 100 financial institutions, including Credit Agricole, Currencies Direct, RAKBANK and TransferGo, had joined its enterprise blockchain network, RippleNet.
During a panel at Swell, a Ripple event held about a mile from the Toronto convention center where Sibos was running, several Ripple users described their experiences with the company’s blockchain for payments.
Richard Bell, blockchain innovation lead at Santander, said banks in London were offering international payments that would settle in 8 to 14 days.
“That was quite incredible in 2015,” he noted. Users couldn’t be sure how much they would receive after fees, and fintech companies were active in offering better service. The bank launched a Ripple iOS payment service for Apple phones to 9,000 employees across Europe, allowing them to pay with British pounds or US dollars. They could tell in advance how much a transaction would cost and when it would arrive, which was either same day or next day.
Employees were quickly using it to pay mortgages in foreign accounts; one got a speeding ticket in Italy and was able to pay it immediately.
“When we tried to close the pilot there was a lot of opposition,” he said. The bank received an award from Accenture for the project. After the pilot, the bank spent three months investigating the Ripple stack for compliance, account controls, scalability and information security. In January it decided to move ahead and is now using Ripple in four major markets for retail, corporate and wholesale payments.