American Express and Santander in pact with financial technology firm Ripple to enable faster cross-border payments

American Express and Santander joined hands with financial technology firm Ripple to enable faster cross-border payments between the US and the UK using blockchain technology.

Payments made by American Express' business customers on its FX International Payments platform would be now routed through Ripple's enterprise blockchain network, RippleNet.

Blockchain, known as distributed ledger technology, allows the dispersion of vast amounts of data for storage on a network of computers distributed around the world, rather than on one centralised server.

Originally used to record all bitcoin transaction, the technology is now finding business applications such as payments, trade finance and identity verification.

Several financial institutions are now experimenting with distributed ledger projects, including JPMorgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, Barclays and HSBC.

"This collaboration with Ripple and Santander represents the next step forward on our blockchain journey, evolving the way we move money around the world," Marc Gordon, executive vice president and chief information officer at American Express, said in a statement yesterday.

"This blockchain solution opens up a new channel between the US and the UK and presents significant opportunity for payments globally", Jose Luis Calderon, global head of global transaction banking at Santander, said in a statement yesterday.

With the new programme, which is not a trial but a full-scale rollout, American Express's FX International Payments (FXIP) business will use the crypto company Ripple to make a transatlantic payment channel between the US and the UK. The channel is currently limited between the two countries.

''I believe this represents the first time any US banking customers can move money internationally with same-day settlement, which is a huge financial and economic milestone,'' said Logan Kugler, managing partner at General Crypto, a cryptocurrency investment fund. ''Prior to this, the only way to move money from the US to the UK same-day was to hop on a plane with a suitcase full of cash. But, that's now finally starting to change.''