(Reuters) American Express has introduced cryptocurrency payments for US corporate customers sending funds to UK-based firms that bank with Santander.
American Express said its FX International Payments (FXIP) business had partnered with Ripple to provide real-time, trackable non-card payments from the US to Britain.
Customers are already using the service, the companies said, and it would be extended in the future.
First major business use
The move marks one of the first major business uses of a blockchain, a shared database of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the internet.
Financial firms hope the technology – of which Bitcoin is the most famous exponent – can reduce the cost and complexity of burdensome processes such as securities settlement and international payments.
”American Express has a long history of integrating new technologies,” said American Express’s chief information officer Marc Gordon, in a statement.
Next step forward
“This collaboration with Ripple and Santander represents the next step forward on our blockchain journey, evolving the way we move money around the world.”
New York-based Ripple, whose main focus is blockchain-based cross-border payments, works with many big banks and is backed by firms including Standard Chartered, Accenture and SBI.
“Transfers that used to take days will be completed in real time, allowing money to move as fast as business today,” said Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse in a statement.
Ripple is in a legal battle with rival blockchain startup R3 Holdco over an options contract to purchase Ripple’s digital currency XRP. XRP has increased in value by more than 30 times as other cryptocurrencies have also soared.