Ripple's biggest goal is to allow customers to make cross-border payments. Even while XRP's price slid 90 percent from its peak a year ago, Ripple says it was signing up an average two customers per week last year as it attempted to break into a legacy software and network business that hasn't changed much in 45 years.
On Tuesday, Ripple announced it hit the 200-customer milestone, a 350 percent increase in customers sending live payments. It is now operating in more than 40 countries. Still, it has a long way to go before making a dent in global payments, which is dominated by the world's biggest banks.
SWIFT, an acronym for the Belgium-based Society of Worldwide InterBank Financial Telecommunications, was established by banks in 1973 as a new way to communicate about cross-border payments, and the messaging system remains the go-to network for more than 10,000 member institutions.
Money transmittal between countries can take several days, especially if intermediaries called correspondent banks get involved. Ripple wants to shorten the process to a matter of seconds using something similar to blockchain — the distributed ledger technology that underpins bitcoin and is being tested by companies from Amazon to J.P. Morgan.
Much like public blockchains, Ripple's network uses advanced cryptography to make sure transactions are secure. But all parties on the system do not have access to a shared ledger. Unlike cryptocurrency transactions, it can only be seen by those with permission to the network and transactions are not completely anonymous.
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