Remittance Giants Ready for Crypto, Tests with Ripple and xRapid

by Seth Mek on December 19, 2018

Financial service giant Western Union says it’s scrupulously watching the growth of global cryptocurrency adoption and is ready to add digital currencies as a payment option for its customers. According to Western Union’s Global Money Transfer president, Odilon Almeida, integrating crypto into the company’s lineup is a straightforward task.

“Western Union is ready today to adopt any kind of currency. We already operate with 130 currencies. If we one day feel like it’s the right strategy to introduce cryptocurrencies to our platform, technology-wise it’s just one more currency.
I think cryptocurrency may become one more option of currency, or assets, around the globe to be exchanged between people and businesses. If that happens, we will be ready to launch.”

The company is well-positioned to potentially bridge the gap between fiat and crypto, boasting its access to billions of bank accounts and over half a million retail agent locations.

WU has been proactively testing Ripple’s new cross-border payment technology since 2015. The company says test remain ongoing. Despite innocuous preliminary results, WU CEO Hikmet Ersek cautioned that the xRapid tests were premature and “too small” to draw a denouement.

Since Western Union already transfers fiat digitally, the company expects blockchain and cryptocurrency integration to be a smooth fit. As a massive on-ramp for global money movement, Western Union could become one of the first major brands in the financial services industry to tap into crypto as a viable, mainstream payment option.

Ersek’s announcement hints at the new hybrid economy that lies at the intersection of digital currencies and fiat currencies, where consumers are increasingly allowed to choose the type of currency they prefer to use.

As Almeida explains in the company’s blog post,

“Cryptocurrencies have so far failed to achieve broad acceptance because they have yet to master three things: governance, compliance and volatility.
But Western Union is already better equipped to solve for such variables because it already moves money across 130 currencies and devotes substantial resources to all of those three challenges.”

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