Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank, the second largest bank by assets in the Arab world is the newest member of RippleNet to provide blockchain-based institutional payments. RippleNet is a network of over 100 financial institutions that include Standard Chartered, UBS, UniCredit and Santander among others.
Gateway to the Cryptosphere
Through RippleNet, the National Commercial Bank will be linked with cryptocurrency exchanges, other banks, payment providers and leading corporates around the world.
This will give the bank’s customers access to Ripple’s blockchain technology that enables “faster and more transparent international payment services.
Ripple announced that NCB will be in production on RippleNet by the end of the second quarter of 2018. The statement from Ripple read in part:
“The bank will first connect to financial institutions in North America and Asia, starting in Singapore […] launching these two critical payments corridors out of the gate offers immediate value to NCB’s customers — services in regions they have not had access to before.”
Ripple said in their Thursday, September 13, 2018 statement that the bank’s decision to join RippleNet is a groundbreaking opportunity in the adoption of blockchain-related technologies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular and the entire Middle East.
That represents a huge market that primarily comprises the Arab kingdom and its citizens besides a huge army of over 11 million foreign workers from over 100 countries who make remittances abroad. Ripple said:
“For SMEs and corporations that depend on NCB, more efficient and transparent remittances will provide stability and help them grow their business faster.”
Middle East Embracing Crypto?
The news about NCB’s joining RippleNet and by extension a customer of Ripple’s xCurrent results from a pilot program that the kingdom’s central bank, the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (SAMA) following last February’s signing of an agreement with Ripple that would assist Saudi Arabia banks “improvement their payments using the xCurrent.” The participating banks would test xCurrent to “instantly settle payments sent into and out of the country” faster, cheaply and more transparently. Ripple’s head of Infrastructural development Dilip Rao had said then:
“Central banks around the world are leaning into blockchain technology in recognition of how it can transform cross-border payments […] SAMA is leading the charge as the first central bank to provide resources to domestic banks that want to enable instant payments using Ripple’s innovative blockchain solution.”
The represents a big win for Ripple since Saudi Arabia plays a huge role in cross-border remittances accounting for $308 million out of the $37 billion sent in 2016.