Latin America's First Ripple Gateway Now Serving Seven Local Markets
Launched by e-payments provider AstroPay, Ripple LatAm will serve Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and more.
Payment solutions provider AstroPay has launched Ripple LatAm, Latin America's first licensed money service business to use the payment network established by Ripple Labs.
Andres Bzurovski, founder of Ripple LatAm and recent Bitcoin Foundation board member candidate, told CoinDesk he believes the new initiative will provide a solution to common money transmission issues in the region.
Though he believes the platform will appeal to consumers and developers, Bzurovski expects the company to have the biggest impact on the business-to-business market, stating:
The news marks the latest major announcement from online payments specialist AstroPay, a former partner of infamous Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. AstroPay boasts 600,000 customers and an established infrastructure in what is increasingly being seen as an important region for digital currency expansion.
Leading in Latin America
Founded in 2009 with a focus on online payments, AstroPay has moved quickly to embrace digital currencies and the role they could play in improving the economic abilities of consumers and businesses in Latin America.
The AstroPay founder told CoinDesk that Ripple LatAm is just one of three planned digital currency endeavors in development at the company, though he did not provide further details on future announcements.
Bzurovski said his time at the company is now "99% dedicated" to digital currencies. He revealed that he was first introduced to bitcoin by Xapo CEO Wences Casares in early 2013, and his interest has grown steadily since.
While introduced to digital currency through bitcoin, Bzurovski indicated that Ripple's solution may be more uniquely tailored to the needs of the Latin American market.
For example, because Ripple uses a digital currency to move fiat currencies, Bzurovski suggests that the company's offering is easier for local regulators to comprehend:
Bzurovski cited current laws in Uruguay that mandate licenses for e-money and e-wallet services as a prime example. He says that while such laws don't allow for the use of new currencies in these offerings, the Ripple network (itself not a 'currency') can present a legal alternative.
Bzurovski also explained that Ripple allows AstroPay to alter its services for the needs of each of the markets it serves. This is an important factor, as he notes "a Brazilian solution is not 100% portable to Argentina or Mexico".
However, despite this extra maneuvering, Bzurovski believes there are compelling use cases for the technology, ones that can be underscored by examples of how the current money transmission system is failing local economies.
Bzurovski, for instance, noted that consumers who deposit checks in Argentina must pay a 0.6% tax of the face value of the check. The tax, he says, creates the incentive for all the stakeholders along a supply chain to simply endorse a check and use it to pay for a service rather than depositing it.
He concludes: "This can be solved without all the hassle through Ripple."
The launch also marks Ripple's latest expansion into developing economies following the May launch of Mexico's first Ripple gateway.
Operated by Puebla-based digital currency exchange Bitso, the gateway is also envisioned as a solution to help ease cross-border remittances in the major North American market.
However, Ripple has had its fair share of setbacks lately, with two high-profile board members resigning in recent weeks. For more on Ripple and its mission, read our full company profile.
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