Crypto comes to Swift's annual conference.
The attendance of cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology provider Ripple at Sibos in Sydney in October added further grist to the rumor mill of a potential tie-up between the banking alternative for cross-border payments and Swift, the financial messaging network owned by the global banks.
Ripple is no stranger to Sibos, Swift’s annual exhibition and conference. But in Toronto last year, it staged its own rival event at the same time as Sibos. This year, the fact that Santander, one of its banking partners, announced its adoption of Swift’s global payments innovation (gpi) initiative for cross-border payments resulted in speculation that Swift and Ripple would use the event in Sydney to announce some form of partnership.
No such announcement was forthcoming from Sibos by press-time. However, Marcus Treacher, Ripple’s global head of strategic accounts, took to Twitter during the event in Sydney, saying it was “Time to embrace the new, rather than propping up the old.”
Treacher was responding to a comment made by Jeremy Light, former European payments head at Accenture, who tweeted: “Those who believe SWIFT gpi is the new norm understand how to preserve the status quo—expensive, uncertain, indirect, batch, low volume, error-prone, breach prone—but misunderstand payments and where they are heading.”
Despite Ripple’s challenge to traditional correspondent banking models in cross-border payments, Sankar Krishnan, executive vice president of Capital Markets and Banking at Capgemini, says Swift and Ripple may still come together. “Swift is such a progressive organization that it has the ability to collaborate and compete at the same time,” he explains. “It was one of the early organizations to support the concept of a cryptocurrency. I will not be surprised if Swift and Ripple collaborate for the common benefits of their customers and shareholders.”
Krishnan says that Ripple had already integrated its services with banks, and that it would be positive for Swift to promote Ripple as a payments protocol alongside other mechanisms. “Given that Ripple is open source, it is easy for Swift and Swift banks to integrate with, and together they could be a formidable player,” he says. For Ripple, Krishnan says there is no better distribution partner than Swift.