Western Union Exploring Ripple and XRP With New Crypto Tests Underway, Says CEO Hikmet Ersek
Western Union CEO Hikmet Ersek says the global money transfer service is not done testing Ripple’s suite of cross-border payments.
At a roundtable discussion on the future of mobile payments hosted by Fortune, Ersek said his company has different needs than MoneyGram, which recently announced it will utilize the XRP-based xRapid in a partnership with Ripple.
“We did a test with Ripple and we are still doing it. It’s still ongoing. We are looking at it and we are learning from Ripple… We are in a different position than MoneyGram. We have our own settlement system which is extremely cost-efficient.”
Western Union has been actively testing Ripple’s cross-border payment technology since 2015. According to Ersek, a new test showed that using cryptocurrency remains five times more expensive than using Western Union’s current system.
In December of last year, Western Union’s global money transfer president Odilon Almeida said the company is prepared to integrate crypto as a payment option for its customers if and when it feels the time is right.
“Western Union is ready today to adopt any kind of currency. We already operate with 130 currencies. If we one day feel like it’s the right strategy to introduce cryptocurrencies to our platform, technology-wise it’s just one more currency.
I think cryptocurrency may become one more option of currency, or assets, around the globe to be exchanged between people and businesses. If that happens, we will be ready to launch.”
As for Facebook’s new cross-border crypto asset Libra, Ersek says he believes Facebook has an uphill battle ahead in creating a payment structure that can efficiently send money in local currencies around the world.
“The real cost is serving the customer in the last mile. You have to be in the streets of Cairo, the streets of Nairobi. It took us many, many years to build a global system that moves $300 billion every year.”