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Will Swift walk away from Ripple? A discussion in the Paris Fintech Forum

The 2017 and 2018 edition of the Paris Fintech Forum was a huge success. After this accomplishment, Altéir has now organized the 4th Paris Fintech Forum with the support of over 60 international partners. The forum will gather more than 2,600 attendees from over 60 countries in the heart of France. They will be listening to more than 220 CEOs from banks, telco, insurance, regulators and Fintechs from all the continents. This fintech forum is taking place on January 29th and 30th this year. The huge payment processing companies like SWIFT and Ripple are expected to participate in it.

There will also be some selected number of speakers at the event including the CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse and the outgoing SWIFT CEO, Gottfried Leibbrandt. These two speakers will discuss the way forward for the fintech industry. The CEO of SWIFT had earlier withdrawn from the speaking role at the Blockchain Economic Forum’s round table conference on payment systems. It was due to the unfavorable competition between SWIFT and Ripple.

This came as a disappointment for many of the Ripple community members. This was because they were looking forward to seeing their CEO challenge the SWIFT head in person. The Paris Fintech Forum may now fulfill the wish of Ripple community as the two CEOs have been featured in the forum. The two panelists will exchange views on the remittance industry and specifically speak on the topic “Let’s send the money.”

The meeting is popularized both in mainstream and crypto media. This because it represents another chance for the two economic giants to come face to face and exchange talking points. Both SWIFT and Ripple have been pitted as serious competitors for quite some time in the markets of international remittance and cross-border payments. Some rumors have now surfaced regarding SWIFT executives. It is presumed that they have been getting shaky about participating in the upcoming event due to the continuous competition between the two giants.

What makes Ripple different from SWIFT:

SWIFT is an acronym for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. It is based in Belgium and was founded in 1973. It is a messaging network that banks use all over the world to securely settle transactions across borders. It was created when there was no internet and when telegraphs were the fastest means to communicate. It has been a big player in the payment processing game and controlled over 70 percent of the division’s payments. An important advantage of the SWIFT network is its universality. Financial institutions worldwide use their service in 200+ countries and territories. This makes the transfer of money possible to and from nearly every country. Every day, nearly ten thousand member institutions of SWIFT would send approximately 24 million messages on the network.

However, this was until Ripple got involved. Ripple is both a digital currency (XRP) and an open payment network that transfers this currency. It is a distributed, open-source payments system. According to Ripple’s website, it is aimed to enable people to break free of the “walled gardens” of financial networks; i-e credit cards, banks, and other institutions that restrict access with processing fees, charges for currency exchanges and delays.

The operations that Ripple undergo are basically via blockchain technology which is offering faster, reliable, as well as cheaper means of cross-border payment processing. Brad Garlinghouse considers SWIFT as the traditional method people were using to transfer money internationally. He states that currently, more than 100 SWIFT-connected banks are more optimistic about Ripple’s underlying technologies.

As of April 2018, Ripple claims that it has signed up with 100+ financial institutions which are less as compared to SWIFT’s greater than 11,000. However, the companies associated with Ripple’s cross-border payments software involve a few major international payment providers operating in different countries as well as local banks. So it seems that ripple’s coverage is wider than quantified by simple statistical comparison.

Ripple has the potential to remove and rectify many inefficiencies in the international transfer and remittances markets. It is doing it, albeit at a slow rate. So, will it replace SWIFT? Perhaps it doesn’t need to. There is enough space for both systems to co-exist as they both provide the same customers with services that are fundamentally different.

SWIFT and Ripple in the rivalry position:

Ripple has emerged as a threat to SWIFT; hence, the discussion on which is the best solution for international remittance service is never-ending. There were some speculations that the two firms would shake hands and get on with their business, but it never happened. The competition between the two fintech companies wasn’t so stiff until the CEO of Ripple publicly declared it. During an interview with the Bloomberg, he stated that Ripple is not partnering with SWIFT; instead, it is taking over them. In the words of Brad Garlinghouse;

“What we are doing and executing on a day-by-day basis is, in fact, taking over SWIFT.”

This places Ripple in competition with SWIFT, with the latter fighting not to lose ground to the former. Things might have turned out differently for SWIFT, had they adopted blockchain technology in time. Contrary to SWIFT’s opinion, executives at Ripple believe that blockchain and digital currencies have important roles to play in the banking industry.

Not long ago, SWIFT said they did not see blockchain as a solution to the correspondent banking. As per Brad Garlinghouse; ‘We have got well over 100 of their customers saying they disagree.’ He is confident that many banks and payment processors on the SWIFT network will soon be signing on with Ripple. A number of financial institutions including big banks across the world are now deploying Ripple’s cross-border tools for instant transfers.

Verdict:

Up until now, SWIFT executives were not ready to confront their fears. But it seems that the time has come when the SWIFT officials will dine on the same table with Ripples. Everything seems to be pointing to SWIFT being ready to come up front in the upcoming fintech conference.

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