In an unexpected partnership for a cryptocurrency business, Ripple has announced a partnership with fiat-based money transfer operator Western Union.
The announcement was made by founder and CEO Chris Larsen on Ripple’s official Twitter account Tuesday:
While further details have yet to be released by either side, the announcement suggests a form of enhanced remittance-based integration is being planned between the two entities. Both Ripple and Western Union have courted controversy from cryptocurrency commentators in recent months, the former in view of its policy regarding regulatory acceptance and user privacy, and the latter due to its perceived stance on Bitcoin as an alternative form of remittance.
The news appears to have been greeted with an equal share of suspicion and optimism. While some criticize Ripple for collaboration with a company many consider to be “anti” cryptocurrency by the nature of its business model, others, such as Grayscale Investments Director Michael Sonnenschein, have hailed the partnership as a capitulation by Western Union:
The ability for Western Union to speed up or otherwise optimize the rate at which it executes international transfers could well give it some valuable traction in a market where the potential of Bitcoin-based remittances is beginning to come to the fore.
Ripple meanwhile continues its spate of high-profile incorporations following its US$30 million funding round in January, having welcomed former Yahoo! executive Brad Garlinghouse as COO earlier this month.
For some, however, the news will evoke recent comments by the Ripple executives, notably Larsen during a California hearing on Bitcoin in which he told lawmakers that “We actually don't think the world needs a new currency; there’s plenty of currencies.”
Nonetheless, the results of the partnership in practice hold potential to create a hitherto-unimagined integration between fiat and cryptocurrency sectors. Its popularity with the community however remains to be seen.