The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has launched a cross-border remittance product based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology, according to an announcement published Dec. 27.

Established in 1952, the NBK is the largest financial institution in terms of assets in Kuwait. Per the bank’s 2017 annual report, the NBK has over $86.3 billion in total assets.

The NBK has reportedly become the first financial establishment in Kuwait to implement a remittance product — “NBK Direct Remit” — for international live payments based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology. The product will purportedly speed up cross-border money transfers.

Dimitrios Kokosioulis, the deputy CEO of group operations and technology, said that the blockchain-based solution allows the bank’s customers to “make money transfers within seconds” and “anytime of the day.” Kokosioulis added that the service will also be available in Jordan, and will subsequently expand to other countries.

In November, Malaysian lending giant CIMB Group Holdings Bhd joined RippleNet. CIMB will integrate Ripple’s XCurrent product, a software solution for expediting cross-border payments, for its “SpeedSend” remittance product.

Also that month, Japanese bank and financial services firm Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. said it will use Ripple to create a new cross-border payments service to Brazil through partnership with Banco Bradesco. The product aims to “assist the banks as they work toward commercializing a high-speed, transparent and traceable cross-border payments solution between Japan and Brazil.”

In October, Ripple launched its real-time settlement platform xRapid for commercial use. xRapid is a platform designed to speed up international payments, while eliminating the need for a pre-funded nostro account.

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At the SBI Financial Results Briefing, SBI Group CEO Yoshitaka Kitao announced that the firm has already begun the discussions to create a project for R3 that uses Ripple (XRP) more extensively.

“We have already begun discussions to create a project to use XRP for R3. By using R3, XRP is used more extensively,” Kitao said.

SBI Group is one of the largest multi-billion dollar financial institutions in Japan that operate with three core businesses in asset management, biotech, and financial services. Since the creation of SBI Ripple Asia, a consortium of more than 60 Japanese banks, SBI Group has led the development and deployment of XRP-based products in Asia.

Why R3?

In May 2017, SBI Group led a $107 million funding round for R3CEV, the largest blockchain consortium in the history of the industry that raised hundreds of millions of dollars to develop enterprise-grade blockchain networks.

Since then, throughout the past year, SBI Group has worked with R3 to create a variety of blockchain-based systems to be utilized by large-scale conglomerates.

In April of this year, SBI Bank LLC, a major bank in Russia operated by SBI Group, joined the R3 blockchain consortium to cooperate with hundreds of financial institutions within the consortia in testing blockchain products.

“We regard blockchains as the core of FinTech innovation and are working on various measures both in Japan and abroad. Through this effort, we believe that we can contribute to the progress of the global blockchain field,” SBI Group said at the time.

According to local analysts that have covered the SBI Financial Results Briefing, the Japanese firm has not released any additional details regarding the integration of XRP in the new project the bank is currently developing.

But, considering the launch of MoneyTap, a mobile application that utilizes the Ripple network and specifically XRP to process cross-border transactions, analysts expect SBI Group to introduce a platform that extensively utilizes XRP and that encourages other banks in the R3 consortium as well as SBI Ripple Asia to use XRP.

Following a series of successful pilot tests, more than 61 Japanese banks are set to utilize MoneyTap to clear overseas transactions, accounting for more than 80 percent of asssets and market share in the country.

Ripple’s Vision

Earlier this year, in an interview with CNBC, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse stated that the company intends to bring a dozen of major banks onto its blockchain network.

“It’s been an incredible 2018 for us. We’re now signing up one bank to a production contract per week. We announced that we signed the largest bank in Kuwait, the National Bank of Kuwait, so it [Ripple] continues to build momentum and the dynamic there is the network effect. The more participants, the more value in joining. So we’re seeing that momentum build,” Garlinghouse said.

The launch of MoneyTap and the new project of SBI Group to use XRP more extensively could support the mid-term vision of Ripple to integrate XRP into the existing infrastructure of leading banks and financial institutions.

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