This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.
Ripple and SWIFT have been engaged in a race to develop a blockchain- or distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based banking solution for cross-border payments.
To date, Ripple's smaller bank member base has stood against it, as an effective DLT solution depends on amassing a wide network of users. Now, however, two new developments suggest Ripple may be building up its influence.The Bank of England (BofE) hinted at Ripple technology's structural importance. In March, the Bank began working with Ripple on a cross-border payments proof of concept (POC) as part of its accelerator program. This week, the BofE said the test was successful, and while DLT is not yet mature enough to underpin its own real time gross settlement (RTGS) system, it is convinced of the importance of making its RTGS compatible with DLT solutions used in the private sector. This is a strong indication that the central bank recognizes the structural importance of Ripple technology, and others like it, in the interbank payments space, and believes changes to its own systems should be made to accommodate it. SBI Ripple Asia significantly expanded its membership. SBI Ripple Asia, a consortium of Japanese banks using Ripple's DLT-based cross-border payments solution, has been gaining members rapidly since launching less than a year ago, and this week, Ripple announced that membership is now at 61. All three of Japan's biggest banks — Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), MUFG, and Mizuho — are now members, as well as another large national bank, Japan Post Bank. Ripple also announced that foreign banks based in Japan, as well as overseas institutions, are now being invited to join. The latest news suggests that, at least in Asia, Ripple is building up a powerful user base for its technology, and may so...