Santander UK to Launch Ripple-Powered Payments App in 2016

The UK arm of Spanish banking group Santander has developed a new payments app in partnership with distributed ledger startup Ripple.

AccessTimeIconMay 26, 2016 at 5:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 12:17 p.m. UTC
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The UK arm of Spanish banking group Santander has developed a new payments app in partnership with distributed ledger startup Ripple.

The app, announced today, is currently available to Santander UK staff, but the bank has plans to roll it out before the end of 2016, a move that would make it the first major bank in the country to offer payment services via blockchain to its clients.

The project is a product of the continued relationship between the bank and Ripple, an association that began in earnest when Santander InnoVentures, its venture capital arm, invested $4m as part of Ripple’s $32m Series A funding round last year.

Santander head of customer and innovation Sigga Sigurdardottir, positioned the app within the context of providing more digital services to its customers base.

Sigurdardottir said in a statement:

“The need for finance has evolved from providing a physical pound in your pocket or card in your purse, where you pay at a till, to being seamlessly integrated into a new, always on, connected lifestyle.”

Cross-border transfers

Users can send between £10 and £10,000 (roughly $15 to $15,000), enabling transfers into euros and dollars. The app makes use of the Apple Pay mobile payments app as an interface, leverages Ripple’s distributed ledger as the payment rail and settles those funds in accounts the following day.

The app currently allows transfers between Santander locations in 21 European countries as well as the US.

When a user sends a transaction through the app, it is broadcast across the Ripple distributed ledger. Funds paid out from one Santander account, after going through the one-day settlement phase, are then credited to another once settlement takes place.

In interview, Ripple global head of strategic accounts Marcus Treacher suggested that the app could be the first of several similar products developed in partnership with banks, and that in the long term, such a system could evolve into a direct, peer-to-peer payment app.

“In time, we want to be put in a position with our partner banks for end-to-end, person-to-person. There’s more to come,” he said.

2016 launch

Though the bank didn't give a firm launch date between now and the end of the year, representatives from Santander indicated that the launch could happen sometime in the fall or winter.

According to Santander UK spokesperson Andy Smith, the bank is aiming to release the app before the end of this year.

“We think it’s most likely this year, it’s not a 2017 thing,” he told CoinDesk.

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Ripple.

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