India is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, attributed directly to its initiatives in the digital field. The country is vigorously innovating and rewriting the playbook for multiple paradigms in the digital space.
One of these is payments and settlement, and government-driven efforts such as the UPI project and the general focus on ‘Digital India’ that is gradually leading to a cashless economy. This has left the space ripe for efforts in the digital payments space, which is something that Indian banks are looking forward to in India.
However, a payments company from Silicon Valley has its eyes on India for this exact reason. The subcontinent clocked close to $70 billion in inward remittances by corporates and retail customers. This has made it a priceless target for the company looking to connect the world’s payment systems — Ripple. What Ripple essentially does is reduce the settlement times by enabling high-volume, low-value transactions via blockchain technology.
Ripple is a blockchain company based out of the US which aims to have solved the payments problem for the world today, as it faces major issues of non-transparency and long transaction times. Existing systems are outdated and also come with a high error rate. Ripple aims to change the way payments are processed by using blockchain as an innovative solution.
Ripple Eyes India As A Big Market
As India is one of the biggest sources of inward remittances in the world, it has been chosen as one of the countries that Ripple wants to target. Ripple’s goal is to provide seamless cross-border transactions for every country in the world, and the presence of a large number of inward remittances showed promise for the company.
The purpose of establishing a base in India also comes with the additional benefit of providing liquidity for rupee trade in the bank to bank transfers, but also to increase efficiency and promote faster payments as a part of India’s digital push. This led to Ripple devoting further focus to the country, establishing an office in Mumbai and appointing Navin Gupta as the country manager for Ripple India in 2017.
Regarding this, the CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, stated, “India is transforming itself into a digital economy and is an innovative leader in payments. Our new office…will allow us to respond to the rapidly growing demand for frictionless payments by our current customer.”
It was also reported that Ripple had been in talks with the National Payments Corporation of India, who are responsible for developing UPI and IMPS. This was to facilitate account-to-account transfers globally. Ripple aims to achieve this by creating a global RTGS system to enable fast transactions for a lower value.
The partnership was also to reportedly increase the effectiveness of RuPay cards offered by the NPCI to allow it to work cross-borders. In addition to these steps, the company has also established a working operation with the banks and financial institutions of the country.
Ripple’s Footprint In India
The company has already engaged in multiple partnerships in India, especially with banks. Banks cannot use the company’s flagship solution known as xRapid due to the lack of regulatory clarity regarding the use of digital assets for settlement. To make up for this, they have begun using the company’s blockchain offering known as xCurrent widely.
YES Bank is set to use Ripple as a competition to Swift, and is a part of their ethos of “using state-of-the-art technology”. Regarding this, the bank even commenced acting as a gateway to other banks in India. It has also plugged into Ripple’s blockchain network known as RippleNet, and set up a node in India. This has allowed them to credit money instantly for almost any account in the country. This partnership enabled Ripple to reach into the country with unprecedented depth.
Kotak Mahindra also partnered with Ripple and is using its xCurrent technology to enable the end-to-end tracking of instant payments and settlements over Ripple’s network of banks known as RippleNet. This is said to cut down international money transfers significantly, and it could come down to minutes instead of days.
IndusInd Bank partnered with Ripple to deliver instant settlements and atomic confirmations in pursuit of enhancing the client experience. This also comes with the added benefit of being able to build on Ripple’s extensive network of banks and financial institutions around the world. This allows IndusInd to solve global payments connectivity pain points through its partnership with Ripple.
Axis Bank has also partnered with Ripple in order to launch an instant international payments service using their blockchain solution. This also increases transparency. This service is set to receive payments from RakBank in UAE for corporate customers to receive payments from SC Bank in Singapore.
The Future Of Frictionless And Cheap Cross-Border Payments
The partnership also highlights the role of India in Ripple’s plans to connect the world’s payments, as the country is an important financial gateway between ASEAN countries and the rest of the world owing to its liquid currency. The negative effect of not solving the payments problem affects emerging markets as it does not allow for inward remittances to these markets, instead of keeping capital in established markets.
Using Ripple’s products, customers can also send lesser amount of money more frequently and at lower fees. This presents a much healthier model for inward remittances for families that need money from relatives working abroad, as opposed to high fees found on many remittance services today.
Better regulation in India will allow banks to use Ripple’s xRapid solution for even faster settlements, as it utilises a digital asset known as XRP. Currently, all banks are banned from transacting with digital assets, putting a hold on Ripple’s plans in the country. However, they seem to be continuing to increase their reach through partnerships, laying the foundation for a frictionless payments world.
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