American Express launches blockchain-enabled payments through Ripple

American Express is now offering blockchain-enabled payments. ( Photo: Shutterstock )

Weeks after Mastercard announced its foray into blockchain technology, American Express (AmEx) has launched its own blockchain-based payment service through the fintech startup Ripple, according to a report by Reuters.

AmEx told Reuters that its FX International Payments (FXIP) business has decided to partner with Ripple and Santander to conduct business in real time, allowing non-card payments between the U.S. and Britain. This means that payments routed through AmEx’ clients’ accounts “will now be routed through Ripple’s enterprise blockchain network, RippleNet,” according to CNBC.

AmEx’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information, Marc Gordon, said in a statement, “This collaboration with Ripple and Santander represents the next step forward on our blockchain journey, evolving the way we move money around the world.”

Santander’s head of global transaction banking, Jose Luis Calderon, echoed this statement. “The blockchain solution opens up a new channel between the U.S. and the U.K. and presents significant opportunity for payments globally.”

The collaborative effort that comes with working with financial institutions was a goal realized for Ripple’s CTO and co-founder, Stefan Thomas.

During Ripple’s banking and blockchain conference Swell, CTO and co-founder Stefan Thomas explained the concept behind the company and was blunt enough to admit that joining Ripple was borne out of frustration.

Thomas’ experience in blockchain traces back to 2010, when Bitcoin was still trending despite rising skepticism. And he admitted slightly leaning towards skepticism. “I remember getting very frustrated going from Bitcoin conference to Bitcoin conference year after year. And there would be a keynote speaker talking about how this year, Bitcoin is going to go mainstream and it never happened.”

It made Thomas think long and hard about how this kind of technology could be made mainstream. He believed in the technology enough to envision how blockchain can actually work. “I wanted to see it [blockchain] realized in practice and actually, you know, real money moving through it, people really using it and having an impact on people’s lives.”

This proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy with the deals with AmEx and Santander in the bag. “What excited me about joining Ripple was this idea of working together with the incumbent financial industry and kind of building something together – making the technology accessible to everybody,” Thomas said.

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