Saudi Central Bank to Test Ripple Payments Tech

Distributed ledger startup Ripple has struck a deal with Saudi Arabia’s central bank on a pilot program that will see banks in the country trial the company’s tech.

Announced today, the pilot with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority marks the second central bank to work with the startup, coming after the Bank of England, the U.K.’s central bank, began working with Ripple last year. Word of the latest deal first emerged earlier this week following comments from CEO Brad Garlinghouse at the Blockchain Connect Conference in San Francisco.

“This ground-breaking pilot program is the first of its kind to be launched by a central bank. Participating banks from the [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] will use xCurrent to instantly settle payments sent into and out of the country, with greater transparency and lower costs,” Ripple said.

That the banks in Saudi Arabia would look to pilot xCurrent is perhaps unsurprising given recent interest in the Ripple product by other notable financial institutions. Earlier this month, CoinDesk reported that Santander is in the process of rolling out a mobile payments app that uses the xCurrent tech (which does not rely on Ripple’s XRP token), with Spain, Brazil, the U.K. and Poland serving as the initial markets for that release.

The announcement also comes a day after news emerged that UAE Exchange, a major remittance company in the United Arab Emirates, had signed on to use the startup’s RippleNet product to manage cross-border payments.

Separate from the Saudi Arabia news are reports about tests being conducted by remittance giant Western Union, which confirmed in an earnings call yesterday that it is piloting the startup’s tech. Fortune reported today that, per a spokesperson, the company is testing payments using XRP.

“We are looking especially in the processing settlement and working capital optimization, also in the regulation part, on the compliance part on the blockchain capabilities,” Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek was quoted as saying by Bloomberg. “And we do test, we do have some tests with Ripple.”

Ripple said as far back as 2015 that it was working with Western Union, though the remittance company didn’t comment at the time.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Ripple.

Saudi bank notes image via Shutterstock

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