Western Union, the world’s largest money transfer service, has revealed that it is conducting a blockchain-based payments trial with Ripple.
Western Union CFO Raj Agrawal confirmed the long-rumored partnership during an interview with Bloomberg, stating that the company was testing the efficiency of blockchain transactions.
Agrawal told the publication that its blockchain efforts are still in a “testing phase” and are not a key part of the 167-year-old firm’s business. He added that, despite industry bullishness surrounding the promise of blockchain technology, the trial has yet to bear any fruit that would be a “big unlock” for Western Union.
Rumors about the trial had swirled since the beginning of the year when a small publication called Ripple News claimed insider knowledge that Western Union was working with Ripple. This rumor was bolstered by a tweet from Michael Arrington, who recently launched the first XRP-denominated cryptoasset hedge fund.
Notably, this trial follows one conducted by the two firms in 2015, although this earlier experiment did not appear to produce any significant changes in Western Union’s operations.
Details on the current trial are slim, but it seems likely that Western Union is connecting to RippleNet, the startup’s enterprise blockchain, which is accessible through the company’s xCurrent product.
However, Ripple stated in January that that “3 of the top 5 global money transfer companies plan to use XRP in payment flows in 2018,” raising speculation that Western Union is already testing XRP integration or will expand the scope of its trial to include XRP at a future date.
As CCN reported, MoneyGram, the world’s second-largest money transfer service, began trialing Ripple’s XRP-based xRapid product for its internal processes in January, making it the largest firm to publicly experiment with XRP.
Earlier this week, Ripple unveiled a partnership with UAE Exchange, one of the largest money transfer services in the Middle East. However, as with most of Ripple’s other partners, it has joined RippleNet rather than the Ripple Consensus Ledger, which is the company’s public blockchain.