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Banks test Ripple digital asset for cross-border payments

By Luke Hagen
October 2016

HIMSS announced that IBM CEO Ginni Romety will deliver the Monday morning keynote address at HIMSS17.

dozen member banks of the R3 distributed ledger consortium have been trialling Ripple's network and native currency to tackle the costs and inefficiencies of interbank cross-border payments.

Banks traditionally provision liquidity for cross-border payments by holding various currencies in local accounts with correspondent banks around the world. But these 'nostro' accounts are costly because banks have to fund them, trapping capital.

Ripple argues that this can be fixed by instead using a digital asset - such as its XRP - which provides liquidity on demand.

It enlisted 12 banks - including Barclays, Intesa Sanpaolo, Nordea, Santander and Scotiabank - to trial its network in R3's lab, making markets for fiat currencies using XRP and then completing authenticated payments without multiple nostro accounts.

Ripple has previously boasted that by using its network and XRP as a bridge asset banks can save up to 42% on interbank international payments. This cost-saving frees up capital to generate revenue opportunities, including new product offerings for high-volume, low-value payments and access to new corridors, claims the firm.

David Rutter, CEO, R3, says: "The tradition of holding numerous currencies across multiple accounts in different countries is costly and inefficient. This is a legacy issue from a time when the technology did not exist to offer a viable alternative, however, digital assets and distributed ledgers can now enable real-time exchange of currencies between parties anywhere in the world without the need for a third party intermediary.

"This prototype paves the way for a major overhaul of how banks process and settle cross-border payments."

Andrew Irvine, head, Canadian commercial banking and partnerships, BMO, adds: "This technology will be a catalyst in reducing complexity, streamlining processes and ultimately lowering the significant costs associated with interbank cross-border payments, which will benefit both banks and their customers in the years ahead."

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