Six months ago, Western Union began testing Ripple’s XRP for payments, but the money transfer company states it has yet to see any financial benefit.
Ripple’s technology is geared towards larger financial institutions and claims its blockchain technology and digital currency, XRP, provides a cheaper and faster way to transfer money internationally. Western Union is still testing Ripple’s XRapid, but the company’s CEO, Hikmet Ersek, states it has not saved them money yet.
Ersek had an Interview with fortune and said:
“We are always criticized that Western Union is not cost-efficient, blah blah blah, but we did not see that part of the efficiency yet during our tests. The practical matter is it’s still too expensive.”
Ripple’s value comes from its use case and this assertion from one of its biggest financial test pilots’ could produce a setback for Ripple Labs. Still, the CEO states that the test may be still too small to draw conclusions just yet. Western Union has only tested XRapid between USD and the Mexican pesos.
Senior Vice President of product at Ripple Labs, Asheesh Birla, confirmed that Western Union has only sent 10 payments using xRapid – so far.
Birla told Fortune:
“If they were to move volume at scale, then maybe you would see something, but with 10, it’s not surprising that they’re not seeing cost savings. They do millions of transactions a month, and I’m not surprised that with 10 transactions it didn’t have earth-shattering results.”
Western Union is still “straddling” its traditional payment methods from before and currently still has some staff abroad for treasury operations that are currently still typing up costs. Unless these costs are removed, it will not be beneficial for Western Union to move forward, Birla explained.
Ripple Labs has calculated and if Western Union were to move all their payments over the xRapid, the company could cut their cost per transactions by at least 50%, per transaction. Ripple’s pilots with Viamericas and Mercury FX last month showed a reduction of transaction costs by 40 to 70%.
Ersek states he has no plans of killing the pilot program and believes that the Ripple team behind the project are “innovative and good people.”
Most of the financial institutions that are testing Ripple are using its xCurrent software, rather than the XRP-reliant technology xRapid. The majority preference of the two Ripple products has raised some doubts about the XRP’s viability.
Cover Photo by Alex Shutin on Unsplash