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Is Ripple About to Partner with SWIFT?


Cryptocurrency analysts have been contemplating a Ripple/SWIFT partnership for the better part of two years. While some are committed to the idea that both platforms remain serious rivals, others are confident the two will eventually join hands and expand on each other’s technological capabilities.

What Put These Ideas in People’s Heads?

Last October, Ripple announced plans to attend the Sibos Conference. The event occurred in Sydney, Australia, and was hosted by representatives of SWIFT. Sibos features some of the biggest leaders in finance discussing technology and strategies for expanding the globe’s digital economy. The event spawned further rumors that both companies were brewing something big in secret.

However, neither venture has officiated plans to work with the other party. In fact, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse recently denied to Bloomberg that his company has any intention of partnering with SWIFT in the future, citing SWIFT’s inability to remain focused and up-to-date regarding the latest technology. He claimed SWIFT is not blockchain ready, which could ultimately get in the way of product development…

Working Behind the Curtains

Once again, there are whispers this could change. In late January, SWIFT took one step closer towards blockchain adoption by announcing that it would launch a proof-of-concept (PoC) gateway known as GPI Link that could allow the blockchain software firm R3 to connect SWIFT payments. The news came by way of the company’s CEO Gottfried Leibbrandt, who sat right next to Brad Garlinghouse on a joint panel at the Paris Fintech Forum.

Garlinghouse has commented that Ripple executes cross-border payments – just like SWIFT – but on a blockchain basis, which makes them a direct competitor. In addition, Garlinghouse claims that Ripple’s cross-border system xRapid is considerably faster than SWIFT, sometimes requiring only two minutes or less to initiate payments. He was also critical of SWIFT for being too “centralized,” and it sounds like a joint effort between both ventures is not meant to be.

Connecting the Dots

However, R3 has confirmed that SWIFT’s GPI is integrating Corda Settler, an open-source application designed to help users settle transactions with cryptographic proof. Traditional monies can be exchanged for cryptocurrency and vice versa, though at press time, the only virtual currency available for payment settlement through Corda is XRP, the official asset of Ripple.

This is again leading observers to speculate on whether Ripple and SWIFT will ever set aside their differences and work with each other, though it has not yet been confirmed whether SWIFT will utilize the crypto-based abilities of Corda. Leibbrandt has commented that problems often stem between banks and organizations that work in crypto due to ongoing volatility in the market, and thus he remains wary of XRP.

We’re Just Too Fast!

Garlinghouse fired back at these statements, claiming there was no risk of volatility considering how fast Ripple can initiate payments.

“I hear people talk about volatility, and I feel like they’re propagating misinformation,” he stated boldly. “Mathematically, there’s less volatility risk in an XRP transaction than there is in a fiat transaction.”

Adding even more fuel to the “rumors fire,” Garlinghouse has mentioned he is open to hiring Leibbbrandt – who is retiring from his position with SWIFT this summer – as a future member of Ripple’s growing team.

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