Youri Bebic, MoneyGram’s global head of product and innovation, believes it’s “highly probable” cryptocurrencies represent the future of how people will shift money across borders.
MoneyGram announced a partnership with Ripple in 2018 to test the digital asset’s ability to lower the cost and increase the speed of payments. Bebic told The Institute for Robotic Process Automation and AI that the results of the test revealed the vast potential of crypto in the world of finance.
Bebic says the worst kept secret about international remittances is that value isn’t really moving across borders when someone sends money overseas. Instead, companies pre-fund bank accounts in countries around the world to be able to power the global remittance industry.
“We did a proof of concept with one cryptocurrency. We made a press release so I can answer that. That was with Ripple, where we are trying to see if we can use cryptocurrency for liquidity in the markets.
Because the big secret with money transfers is the money doesn’t move. The money’s already there. We pre-fund pretty much in bank accounts all over the world and then we do value transfer. But if I were to send money from here to Mexico and literally, physically move the money at that time, it would take a lot of time.”
Cryptocurrencies could change the status quo, says Bebic, by making it truly possible to send value across borders in an instant, without needing to utilize pre-funded bank accounts. However, the liquidity of crypto assets is a key issue that still needs to be overcome.
“So cryptocurrency, if they all add scale, and if the markets are there with liquidity, could actually allow us to eliminate pre-funding of fiat, what we call regular currency in a particular country, and then use the exchanges to sell cryptocurrency against local currency and deposit that into the bank account or give it in cash for our user. So, we are obviously looking into that. We are running some pilots and trials.
And I do believe it is highly probable that this is the way money will move in the future. There is still a lack, again, of liquidity, and some markets are more advanced than others. We deal with a lot of exotic currencies… in Africa, for example, where I don’t see cryptocurrency really being traded in the near future. But in many places, like in Europe, like in Asia, it could actually be possible, and if it takes off we want to be a part of it.”