Ripple Labs CEO Chris Larsen sent the digital currency community buzzing this week when he tweeted that Ripple Labs is working with Western Union on real-time payment settlements.
Many view such a partnership as a sign of Western Union’s willingness to become more active in the digital currency space. The partnership also signifies a growing recognition of Ripple Labs’ open protocol that lets people send digital currency across the Internet-based distributed network. Ripple Labs signed an agreement in the fall with two U. S. banks (Cross River Bank in New Jersey and Kansas-based CBW Bank) to allow the banks to use Ripple Labs’ open source payment protocol, according to CCN. The agreements marked another step in allowing instant money transfers. Also read: Ripple Labs nears close of $30 million funding roundTwo years ago, Ripple Labs partnered with SnapSwap Inc. and ZipZap Inc. to facilitate transactions for both traditional and digital currencies. SnapSwap, which describes itself as a U. S. gateway to Ripple, leverages the Ripple network to allow users to trade U. S. currency for a variety of fiat and digital currencies. It allows people to make payments from their bank accounts to Ripple. ZipZap, a payment platform for international money transfers, bridges the gap between digital currencies and traditional payment platforms. ZipZap utilized Ripple’s network to allow people to conduct online transactions at ZipZap’s merchant locations throughout the U. S. The Zip Zap partnership put Ripple Labs in competition with Western Union, according to an October 2013 Bloomberg News report.