Another major financial institution has partnered with blockchain-based payments firm Ripple.

The National Bank of Egypt has signed a cooperation agreement with Ripple to establish new channels for inward remittances, according to a Feb. 11 report from local daily news site Youm7. 

The agreement reportedly makes the National Bank the country’s first to venture into the blockchain sector. 

Remittances: an almost $600 billion global market

The global remittance market — referring to the money or goods that migrants send back to family and friends in their home countries — is expected to reach $597 billion in 2020, according to data from the World Bank.

Egypt was projected to be the fifth highest remittance recipient country worldwide in 2019 ($26.4 billion), following India, China, Mexico and the Philippines. 

By joining the RippleNet network — which includes over 300 international banks and institutions — the National Bank ostensibly hopes to access new markets, and to support and extend its remittance business in the Gulf region in particular.

National Bank Chair Dalia El-Baz said he expects RippleNet to grow exponentially and to thus provide a boost to the institution’s liquidity management and foreign currency earrings.

In accessing faster and more efficient cross-border payments mechanisms, the National Bank hopes to broaden its customer base, while assuring users of full compliance with international insurance standards and high levels of operational network security on the blockchain.

In signing up to RippleNet, the Egyptian bank joins other correspondent banks and market participants in the Arab Gulf states, as well as institutions in financial hubs such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

As of press time, Ripple’s native token XRP is trading at roughly $0.29, up 6.15% on the day, and almost 11% on the week, according to Cointelegraph’s XRP Price Index.

Blockchain remittances at the start of 2020 

In the wider blockchain remittances sector, news has recently broken that the Hong Kong-based blockchain remittance startup Bitspark is halting services, citing internal restructuring issues. 

One of the firm’s co-founders cited issues that had ostensibly been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak in China, as well as anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

At the start of the year, Thailand’s oldest bank, Siam Commercial Bank, partnered with Ripple to create a mobile application powered by blockchain that will deliver instant, low-cost cross-border payments.