Western Union has formally confirmed that its Ripple-based blockchain trial will include XRP integration, making the money transfer giant the largest firm to test XRP in its internal payment flows.
As CCN reported, Western Union confirmed rumors about the partnership on Wednesday. Details about the trial were slim, but it seemed unlikely that XRP was involved given that most of Ripple’s partners have connected to RippleNet, the company’s private enterprise blockchain.
However, Ripple later issued a statement to media outlets making it clear that Western Union will pilot Ripple’s xRapid product, which uses XRP to provide real-time liquidity and reduce the capital requirements necessary for financial institutions to operate in emerging markets.
“We’ve been testing different products with Western Union for a while,” Ripple said. “We’re excited about our work towards a pilot implementation of xRapid, which uses XRP in payment flows.”
Western Union CTO Sheri Rhodes told Yahoo Finance that the 167-year-old firm, which was first founded as a telegraph company, is interested in blockchain technology for a variety of reasons:
“We continue to explore possible blockchain applications for our business, and we are piloting some settlement tests with Ripple for certain corridors. For blockchain in general, we’re looking at areas such as transaction processing and settlement, working capital optimization, regulatory technology, and digital identity. We have a strong platform and system that work well today, but we continue to explore and test whether these technologies could potentially reduce costs and improve the customer experience,” Rhodes said.
Western Union is the fifth prominent firm to test xRapid, a product that has proved much less popular than Ripple’s enterprise blockchain, which has been trialed by more than 100 financial institutions located across the world.
That said, two of those five companies — Western Union and fellow money transfer giant MoneyGram— are among the biggest names in financial services, which will likely provide the nascent product with a strong vote of confidence as Ripple attempts to market it to commercial banks and other large firms.