Ripple is set to launch a commercial product release ‘within the next month or so’ according to an executive within the company as reported by CNBC.
The news was brought to the public by Sagar Sarbhai who is the head of regulatory relations for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East at Ripple. In an interview with CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal, he made clear that the expected product is set to be released next month.
What’s this exciting, new commercial product? It’s Ripple’s xRapid which will use the XRP cryptocurrency as a ‘bridge’ between different fiat currencies. Effectively, it will allow for essentially instant conversions between different fiat currencies for faster cross-border payments. Let’s say, for instance, a bank wants to convert dollars to rubles. Generally, this process would require a pre-funded local currency in set accounts in order for the trade to take place. With xRapid, this whole process would be accelerated since fiat would be converted to XRP, moved to the destination country, and then converted to that currency.
Frankly, Ripple is expecting this release to be a big deal. According to Sarbhai, more than 120 banks and financial institutions have partnered with the crypto giant. These deals include high-profile financial institutions such as Santander, American Express, MoneyGram, and Western Union. However, not a single bank has tested the new cryptocurrency thus far in any commercial sense. xRapid hopes to change that and seeks to be the first mass-used commercial platform for major financial institutions. If successful, the ramifications could be groundbreaking.
Just earlier this year, the Chief Executive of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, said that he expects that “dozens” of financials institutions and banks would be using xRapid by the end of 2019. That’s a bold claim. However, Sarbhai also shares this same optimism, remarking that the crypto regulatory environment has steadily improved since last year. He told CNBC, “A couple of years ago the narrative was: blockchain good, crypto bad… What we’re now seeing is more and more regulators, policymakers taking the whole space in one conjunction,” he said.
Therefore, the regulatory environment seems poised right now for a crypto-friendly environment and that might come sooner than one would expect. In a space that’s moving so quickly, and a bearish 2018 market year, one major catalyst could easily send the entire space to new heights. However, the regulatory environment for crypto is still uncharted territory so we cannot expect anything concrete just yet.
However, xRapid demonstrates that blockchain can easily solve a fundamental problem within the financial world: the difficulty of cross-border payments. This just might be crypto’s wedge for integrating itself into the greater financial world.